When is Paddy McNair set to return to first team action? Sunderland boss answers and hints at changes for Brentford

Sunderland midfielder Paddy McNair.
Sunderland midfielder Paddy McNair.
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Paddy McNair will get another run-out for the Under-23s against Manchester City tonight.

Elliott Dickman's side host City in Premier League 2 at Eppleton CW, in Hetton, tonight (KO 7pm) and McNair will again be involved.

The midfielder has been suffering with groin problems since returning from a long-term knee injury but is closing in on a return to first team action and could return next week.

But Sunderland have been dealt a fresh injury blow with Liverpool loanee Ovie Ejaria a major doubt after picking up a knock in training.

Sunderland host Brentford in the Championship at the Stadium of Light on Saturday (KO 3pm) and Chris Coleman is pleased to have several players back in contention.

Coleman said: "Numbers wise it is much better, we are in a better position.

"We are having to tell players they are not involved because of numbers, that is a better place for us to be in.

"Adam Matthews has been back training, Callum McManaman too and Lamine Kone has done a session but is not quite ready. Paddy McNair played for the Under-23s last week.

"He will have another hit with the Under-23s tonight [against Manchester City]. Come through that and he will be okay. Numbers are much better."

Sunderland travel to Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday night before hosting Middlesbrough at the Stadium of Light a week Saturday.

Meanwhile, Coleman has also hinted that he could make changes for the visit of Brentford, with switching to a flat back four an option.

Coleman added: "Second half at Bristol we looked better in a back four but I don't want to make excuses with formations. If you are ready and motivated then you do it, regardless of the system.

"It is a formation we have had good and bad results with. Personnel and mentality - that is what it is about.

"You still have to be right individually, motivationally have all that whatever formation we play. It was more of a change of mentality at Bristol City that got us the point.

"There is always another game round the corner, I have been here before on the back of a result and we don't produce, there is a psychological barrier that we have to break down and we are running out of time.

"Whatever last week was it was. This week, different formation, maybe yeah. Different personnel, maybe yeah. I'm not giving anything away there.

"Odds are it will be edgy, we are up against a good footballing team having a good season, different position to us. It will be tight, edgy, gritty, have we got it?

"Bristol needs to be a turning point. It could be a moment that turns it around. It wasn't three points but the second half performance was very gutsy.

"It has to be across 90 minutes if we are to pull away from where we are. We can take big positives from the second half."