This is how Jordan Willis is faring in his recovery from a major knee injury at Sunderland

Lee Johnson says Jordan Willis is progressing well in his long-term recovery from a major injury.

Saturday, 23rd October 2021, 9:00 am

Willis suffered a ruptured patella tendon at Shrewsbury Town in February of this year, which had inititally been expected him to sideline him for six months.

But a second rupture during surgery came as a major setback, all but ruling out his chances of playing again this season.

Johnson says the defender remains a 'long, long way' off returning to action but says that his progress has been as planned since that initial setback.

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Sunderland defender Jordan Willis

The head coach says all parties are encouraged by that.

"First and foremost we have to give huge credit to Jordan, who has been amazing in the process," Johnson said.

"The physios are obviously conscious in terms of looking after the mental and physical wellbeing for the player.

"The starting point is that he's had a really good frame of mind. He probably knew even before he got injured that there was an issue there, and we then had a bit of a failed operation in one sense.

"They were trying to first get rid of the infection and then from the second point of view to try and get some movement in the knee.

"It [tendon] actually snapped again in that operation. It sounds horrendous, if I'm honest.

"That meant another operation but he's now doing really well.

"He's doing well in both the mobility he's got and the strength, because a lot of the muscle around it you lose.

"He has to take a lot of credit.

"He's a long, long way away but ever block that we tick is another step forward for him."

Johnson also outlined the steps he had to taken to keep Willis involved in the senior environment and mentally focused aside from his recovery.

"He'll come into the tactical analysis, for example, that we do pre and post match," Johnson said.

"He's always a part of it, lending his experience for the rest of the players.

"We've dabbled and talked about finding things for him to do, potentially scouting players and the opposition.

"Niall Huggins is another one where we've been looking for ways we can keep them engaged mentally while they're out for that sustained period."

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