Sunderland have been given a big boost for their weekend clash with Shrewsbury with Lee Johnson revealing that Jordan Willis is ready to return from injury.
The 2019 signing from Coventry has struggled massively with different setbacks recently, and had to be withdrawn after just 36 minutes of the midweek loss to Plymouth Argyle due to a long-standing knee problem rearing up again.
It was the latest in a list of injuries for the 26-year-old, who has made just 10 league appearances this season for the Black Cats.
But it seems as though his removal from the pitch against Argyle was just a precautionary measure, as Johnson has given him the all-clear to be involved against Salop.
Johnson told James Hunter of the Chronicle that Willis should be ‘OK to play’ and that he ‘was fine’ following a training session today, whilst Sunderland Echo reporter Phil Smith added that the club just have to manage his knee on a ‘day to day’ basis.
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That may be a worrying sign for some as it looks like Willis has problematic knee issues, but it’s something that will potentially just have to be closely managed by medical staff.
A pairing of Willis and Bailey Wright looks to be Sunderland’s strongest at the heart of their defence, and Johnson will not want to lose the former for any longer than he needs to should the knee problem continue to flare up.
Johnson cannot afford to lose Willis at this time, especially with injury to fellow defender Tom Flanagan, so it’ll be a situation that needs to be carefully manager.
As Johnson explained a few days ago, the patella tendonitis that Willis suffers from can blow up at any time, so it may be a case of him not training for most of the week before going into a league game.
With new signings not certain – especially with the takeover of Kyril Louis-Dreyfus not completed yet – Johnson may need Willis available for every game in the near future, with his fingers crossed that he doesn’t have to withdraw him early from a match again.