Sunderland boss Lee Johnson has confirmed that Arbenit Xhemajli has returned to training, although he is still months away from being considered for a first-team place.
The defender suffered a serious knee injury whilst away with the Kosovo U21 side in October last year, which frustratingly came shortly after he had signed for the Black Cats.
Given the nature of the setback, it has been a long road to recovery for Xhemajli but there was some good news as Johnson provided an update when speaking to Chronicle Live.
“Arbenit trained today, which was good. It was great to see him out there. Obviously, he is a bit of a way off, but he has trained properly for the last two days and that’s a real heartwarming thing to see because I know how hard he has had to work behind the scenes.
“I think we are still looking at a turn of the year timescale. But U23 games have got to be considered, probably over the next six weeks I think that could be an option.”
Johnson’s side are currently flying high in League One, having won five of their first six games.
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This is great news for Xhemajli because he was so unfortunate to pick up the injury so quickly after signing for the Black Cats and that will have been a real blow for him and the team.
The fact he is back out on the pitches is a big step for him but there’s clearly a lot of work that still needs doing before he can come into Johnson’s thinking for the first-team.
So, more patience is required but it could be a welcome boost for the squad in the New Year if Xhemajli becomes an additional defensive option.
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