Aiming to regain their place in the League One play-offs when they welcome Gillingham to The Stadium of Light at the weekend, Sunderland will be hoping for a continuation of their excellent record on home soil this season.
Alex Neil’s side find themselves deep amidst a battle to secure a top-six spot in what remains of this season, with the Black Cats stretching their unbeaten run to six with a 0-0 draw with Lincoln City a week last Saturday.
With Gillingham showing good form and still looking to escape the relegation picture, Saturday’s clash will be by no means a straightforward one.
Here, we take a look at all the early Sunderland injury news ahead of a big clash in the north east…
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Important duo could return
Nathan Broadhead and Alex Pritchard are edging closer to a first-team return, Alex Neil has told the club’s media.
Broadhead has been particularly unfortunate when it comes to the injury department this season, being confined to just one appearance since the turn of the year.
Pritchard, whose arrival in League One certainly caught the attention across the divisions, has contributed with four goals and 10 assists this season, whilst the Everton forward has eight goals in 18 outings.
Speaking to the club’s media about the pair’s situations, Neil said: “We were concerned that both would be long-term issues, but they have recovered quicker than anticipated.
“That’s great and both have been out on the grass this week, so we have hopefully seen flashes that they are coming back.
“Whether they will be back for this weekend’s game against Gillingham, I’m not quite sure, but they certainly aren’t far away.”
Danny Batth latest
Danny Batth is targeting a return to action this weekend against the Gills, speaking to the Sunderland Echo about his “niggly injury” and trying to come back a few times: “It just seems to have dragged on and I’ve tried to come back a few times.
“It’s been a niggly injury so we’ve kind of had to let it build up and obviously I’ve been working hard off the pitch in the gym and physically.
“The injury was pretty unfortunate, it was in a blocked tackle. I’ve won the ball and the guy has put all his weight into my ankle.
“There was no massive damage on the scan, it has just been niggling and niggling so hopefully that’s behind me now and I can crack on.
“I’ve just been using the international break to get upto speed.”