FRAIZER Campbell says he’s ready to play against Middlesbrough this weekend if he gets the call from manager Martin O’Neill.
The Sunderland striker came through his latest comeback game for the club’s Reserves last night and continues to make steady progress towards a return.
But having travelled with the full squad to Chelsea earlier this month, he says he’ll be more than happy to be included on the bench this weekend and perhaps bring to an end a 17-month injury nightmare
The 24-year-old has missed almost a season-and-a-half after suffering two knee ligament injuries, but insists he is ready for action if called upon for the Black Cats’ FA Cup fourth round tie this Sunday.
Campbell played 80 minutes of last night’s 1-0 win over Bolton, a fortnight after scoring on his return to reserve-team action at Blackburn and knows he’s inching ever closer to a return.
“I’m looking forward to that moment,” he said.
“It’s all I’ve been able to think about for the last 18 months and I’m getting closer all the time now.
“I travelled down to Chelsea with the squad and that was all part of becoming back part of things once again.
“It was nice to go down there the day before and be involved in the team meetings once again and if I was called up to play or be on the bench this weekend, I am ready.
“I don’t know what the plan is though.
“I’ve got to make sure I recover from last night’s game, see how my legs feel, and then take it from there.
“It’s up to the manager to decide.
“But if he wants to include me on the bench, I will be delighted.
“There would be no-one happier than me to come back, get involved and be back amongst the goals again.
“I’ll do everything I can, but of course it will take a little bit of time for me to get my sharpness back.”
Campbell’s first cruciate injury came in Sunderland’s win over Manchester City at the end of August 2010 and that kept him out for eight months.
His second came on the eve of his scheduled return in April last year, leading to another eight months rehabilitation.
Campbell said: “That second injury was the thing.
“It’s hard to describe how frustrating it has been but I just have to try and forget about it now and concentrate on getting back.
“Thankfully, I’ve not had any setbacks or problems after that second one.
“My legs have felt tired and a bit tight at times, but that is no surprise after so long on the sidelines.”