JACK RODWELL is struggling to free himself of the niggling injury which has plagued the ex-Manchester City man over the last month.
Rodwell has been out of action since suffering a groin problem in training on the morning of Sunderland’s FA Cup win at Fulham three weeks ago, despite regular hopes among the Black Cats’ medical team that the midfielder was on the verge of returning.
The £10million summer signing has been playing a part in full training, but the more intense of Sunderland’s sessions aggravate the injury and are holding him back when it comes to participating in competitive action.
That proved to be the case last weekend, with Rodwell again absent for Sunderland’s stalemate against West Brom.
Sunderland boss Gus Poyet said: “He’s been 50-50 for a while.
“He trained all week last week. The week is progressive and then you drop off the day before the game to recover. He gets through the hardest part, but when it gets closer, he starts feeling it a bit more as a result of the hardest part.”
Rodwell has started just 11 of 26 Premier League games since arriving in a big money move from the Etihad in the summer, with the England international yet to demonstrate the form which saw him become one of the hottest young prospects in the country at boyhood club Everton.
The 23-year-old is one of several injury headaches at present for Poyet, with Sunderland fearful on the severity of the lay-off awaiting Emanuele Giaccherini after re-injuring his ankle in the cup win at Fulham.
As reported yesterday, Giaccherini will see a specialist this week over the injury, yet Poyet is not confident that the Italian international will return imminently for Sunderland’s bid to remain in the Premier League.
Winger Will Buckley remains sidelined with a knee injury, while Billy Jones missed the clash with former club West Brom due to a swollen ankle.
The injuries have been a contributory factor in Poyet’s failure to name an unchanged line-up in the Premier League this season, with another five changes to the side against the Baggies.
“It’s easy for people to sit at home and play manager and say I would pick this, this and this,” added Poyet.
“When you get to the ground and see one of your picks on the bench, you think why is he not playing? That’s normal. But there are different things you need to take into consideration.
“There is a way of seeing the game, analysing the opposition and what is needed.
“And it’s not just picking the best players in every position because then you become individuals and not a team.”