Sunderland defender Arbenit Xhermajli is unlikely to make his first-team return against Manchester United U23s in the EFL Trophy this evening.
The defender has spent much of his 13 months at the Stadium of Light sidelined due to injury but was back in action for the U23s on the weekend, starting at centre-back in the 2-1 Premier League Cup win against Leeds United U23s.
The Northern Echo has revealed that Xhermajli came out of his first taste of competitive action in some time unscathed but U23s boss Elliott Dickman has warned Black Cats supporters not to expect to see the Kosovan international in tonight’s game.
He said: “It might be a little bit early for Arby.
“He’s had a very bad injury and the medical staff here at the club will always be very thorough with their planning of his return to play.
“It could be a little bit early for him, but the manager will make the final decision on that. It was great to see him get 45 minutes on Sunday though, and he was a great help to the younger players.”
The 23-year-old was something of a left-field signing when he arrived from Swiss club Neuchâtel Xamax in September 2020 and the Sunderland fanbase have not had many chances to see him play.
Xhermajli featured just once for the senior side, playing at centre-back in the 8-1 win against Aston Villa U23s in the EFL Trophy last September, before a serious knee injury ruled him out for the rest of the 2020/21 campaign.
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It seems as though Sunderland fans will have to wait a little longer to see their 2020 summer arrival pull on a red and white shirt once again.
Xhermajli has been really unlucky since joining the North East club, so it’s a positive that he came through the game on Sunday unscathed and can continue his rehabilitation.
While Lee Johnson already has some impressive options at centre-back available to him, more depth is certainly a positive in a League One season that looks set to be tight.
The Black Cats boss had something of a defensive injury crisis last season, so it’s completely understandable that they want to take their time to ease Xhermajli back.