STEVEN FLETCHER will resume full training tomorrow, with the Sunderland striker boasting an outside chance of featuring at Arsenal this weekend.
Fletcher has been undergoing treatment on an Achilles injury for almost three weeks after the Scotland international was clearly being hampered by the problem on the pitch.
Sunderland’s medical team are hopeful that the spell on the treatment table will ensure that Fletcher does not need an operation after an injury-plagued campaign for the frontman, who missed the start of the season with ankle ligament damage.
Fletcher, who has netted just three times this season, will be put through his paces on the training ground tomorrow by joining in full training with the rest of the Sunderland squad.
And the 26-year-old’s reaction to that run-out will determine whether he is pushed harder in time to be involved at the Emirates in the Premier League on Saturday, or if Sunderland take things more slowly and look to get the £12million striker in contention for the Capital One Cup final eight days later.
Sunderland boss Gus Poyet told SportMail: “He will start tomorrow with us.
“Then depending on how he feels, we can either accelerate him for Arsenal or make sure he is right for the final.
“He’s had a programme with the expectation that he will be able to play at Arsenal.
“I don’t know Achilles injuries, but for people I have known, they are always worried about feeling something, so we’ll have to see how he is. “
Poyet admits he would prefer to have Fletcher available against Arsenal, although it’s likely the former Wolves man will be among the substitutes if he is fit to feature.
Fletcher’s last start came against Manchester United in the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg and Poyet ideally wants last season’s top scorer to get some more game-time under his belt before the final.
Poyet added: “Perfection would be for him to play against Arsenal. I would like to have him for then, even if it’s on the bench.
“That would be a great situation for him to feel part of the group again and playing.
“If not, I would like to think he will be all right for the final.”