Simon Grayson says Lewis Grabban is close to a first team return and will provide a different dimension to the Sunderland attack.
Grabban has been missing since the 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest last month but could be in contention to make the matchday squad against QPR on Saturday as Grayson’s attacking options steadily improve.
Grayson said: “He’s making good progress, he’s not too far away.
“I think Lewis proved in the first five, six weeks of the season that he’s a good player. The level that he’s played at, the money he’s gone for. He slotted into the team really well, got some goals, and he’s a different kind of striker to the ones we’ve got, Vaughany, Gooch and Watmore. Different type of players will help for different games.”
Grayson has had a clean bill of health from those players returning from international duty, though a late decision will be made on Bryan Oviedo’s involvement with the left-back arriving back on Wearside as late as Thursday night.
“McGeady, O’Shea are back in good spirits, Jonny Williams is back in less good spirits!” Grayson said, referring to Ireland’s crucial victory over Wales.
“Lamine is back, Didier is back, and we are just waiting for Bryan Oviedo to land tonight and he will be in a buoyant mood after Costa Rica qualified for the World Cup.
“As it stands, everybody who went away has come back in one piece and should be available for selection.
“Duncan has had another 45 minutes (for the Under-23s), Paddy McNair played 45 on his comeback as well, and Josh Maja is back on the grass doing work with the first team”, he added.
“Maja has been out with us all week, Paddy will play on Monday at Arsenal (Under-23s), potentially next Friday at Everton as well, and then he might be available for us some time after that.
“I think Maja will be involved at Arsenal and Everton, it’s a progression. Its just nice to see him back out on the grass and doing work with us, the more players you’ve got available, it gives everyone a lift and it raises the bar.
“All of a sudden, the players in the team on Saturday will be looking at the bench and thinking, I need to play well to stay in the team and keep the shirt.”
Grayson also said he was impressed with McNair’s comeback performance against Hertha Berlin and is looking forward to welcoming him back into the first team fold.
He said: “I think he was feeling his way into the game and rightly so when you’ve been out for such a long time. It’s a bit different when you’re a striker, you’ve got more freedom to run around like Duncan, in midfield it’s tight, competitive, there’s a lot of challenges flying in.
“He managed his game really well and for him to score was a big boost. He showed glimpses of what he can do on the ball, got around the pitch well, he’s only going to get better.
“He sees himself as a box-to-box midfield player, he’s another addition to the squad, he’s powerful, uses the ball well, hence why he’s an international who came here for decent money.”