MARTIN O’Neill hopes Kieran Richardson will be fit to face Manchester City this weekend and solve the problem of Wayne Bridge’s unavailability.
On-loan full-back Bridge cannot play against his parent club tomorrow because of Premier League rules and Richardson is battling to recover from a calf-injury sustained in the Tyne-Wear derby at the start of the month.
The 27-year-old has made a good recovery and could be included in the squad for tomorrow’s trip to the Etihad Stadium.
And O’Neill, generally reluctant to put a timescale on injuries, has admitted that Richardson is close.
“It’s been disappointing for Kieran, because he was playing well until he suffered the injury,” said the Black Cats boss.
“But he is making good progress and hopefully he won’t be out for too much longer.”
Should Richardson be ready, it would be a major boost for O’Neill because Premier League rules mean on-loan Wayne Bridge – Richardson’s deputy in recent weeks - is ineligible to play against the Blues.
If Richardson is still out, O’Neill is likely to ask Jack Colback to play at left-back - as he did in Sunderland’s New Year’s Day win against City at the Stadium of Light.
Colback is available again after being allowed to miss Sunderland’s midweek FA Cup defeat against Everton when he became a father for the first time on the morning of the match.
Full story in Friday’s Mail