The THREE selection boosts Tony Mowbray is expecting at Sunderland after the international break

Tony Mowbray remains hopeful that he will be able to welcome some key Sunderland players back into the fold after the international break.

Ellis Simms was absent as Sunderland earned a 2-2 draw against Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday due to a toe problem, but was with the squad on the day as the head coach revealed afterwards he felt it was sensible to give him a longer period of rest."It was touch and go with Ellis, and the common sense thing was just not to expose his toe, where he could go down after five or ten minutes," Mowbray explained.

"It's OK having a jog about and thinking you're OK, but in a Championship match where there is no hiding place I think it made more sense just to give him a couple of weeks.

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"Then I would hope by the Preston game when we restart that he'll be in contention. We'll have to wait and see, of course, because until he gets his boots on and starts sprinting then we won't know for sure."

Dennis Cirkin in recovering from a minor hamstring injury

Mowbray also remains confident that Dennis Cirkin will be back in the matchday squad when Preston North End travel to the Stadium of Light on October 1st.

Cirkin has been missing from the side for the last two games with a hamstring injury, but was an outstanding performer in the early weeks of the season.

That will present Mowbray with a fascinating and very welcome dilemma, given how well Aji Alese has performed in the last two games.

"I think so, that's certainly what we're working to," Mowbray said of Cirkin.

"I get a report every day from the physios and I hope that he will be available after the international break, I've no reason to think that he won't be from the information I've had.

"He'll have to go through the process of getting out there, running, kicking, twisting and turning, and sometimes in that process something can be not quite right but with Dennis we're hopeful that won't be the case."

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Mowbray also hopes that PSG loanee Edouard Michut will be in contention to make his Sunderland debut after another two weeks acclimatising and getting up to speed.