Striker closes in on fitness, but Sunderland U23s’ date with Legia Warsaw comes too soon

Josh Maja
Josh Maja

Josh Maja has stepped up his comeback from injury this week.

But he will not be involved when Sunderland Under-23s take on Legia Warsaw in tonight’s Premier League International Cup tie at the Stadium of Light (7pm).

The 18-year-old made a tentative return to action last month, but suffered a recurrence of his knee problem while warming up before a Premier League 2 clash with Everton.

Maja, who impressed in pre-season before picking up the injury, hopes to push for first-team selection in the coming weeks.

Coach Elliott Dickman will name a young side to take on Poles Legia, though Jack Rodwell, Donald Love and Brendan Galloway all played in the previous group game, a 2-0 win over Hertha Berlin.

Dickman said: “We have to make sure we’re competitive and work hard, but we also have to pass the ball well and make sure we produce the quality we’re capable of in the final third.

“We’ll have similar squad to the one we’ve had in recent weeks – Josh Maja won’t feature as he continues his rehab – and it’ll be another chance for the young lads to showcase themselves on a big stage.

“It’s also a good chance for the supporters to come down and catch a glimpse of the younger players against European opposition, as it’s not something they can see every day. Above all, though, we want to get a good result and then do the same in our final group game against Leicester.”

Dickman admits his side will be largely in the dark when it comes to their opponents. He said: “Hopefully we can get another victory.

“But we’re going in somewhat blind because we don’t know too much about them. However, we’re going through what we have at the club and we’re ready for the game.”

Admission is priced at £3 for adults and £1 for over-65s and under-16s. Unlike U23 league games, there is no free entry for season card holders due to competition rules.