BILLY JONES and Emanuele Giaccherini are pencilled in to return in the Tyne-Wear derby, rather than being risked in this weekend’s visit of West Ham.
The Sunderland duo have stepped up their comebacks by resuming full training with the rest of the first-team squad after each spending more than two months on the treatment table.
That is a welcome boost for Gus Poyet, with two of his key figures limited to just four competitive appearances for Sunderland so far this season.
But Poyet is wary of throwing Jones and Giaccherini straight back into the squad for this Saturday’s clash against high-flying West Ham.
The head coach wants the duo to spend 10 days on the training field before considering their inclusion, and expects them to be back in the squad for the trip to Newcastle United on Sunday, December 21.
Poyet said: “Yes, they are joining in this week.
“But that doesn’t mean they will be available for West Ham.
“Unless anyone gets injured, we’ll probably give them an extra week, so they’ll probably be available for Newcastle.
“Now, the players know that sometimes things go really bad and the manager will go ‘All the best, you’re back’ a little bit early.
“But I would like them to have 10 days proper training with the first-team – being at that level of competition which helps you to play.”
Both Jones and Giaccherini have both been sidelined for longer than was originally expected.
Jones suffered a hamstring strain in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Middlesbrough in October after missing the start of the campaign with a similar problem.
Giaccherini, meanwhile, sustained damage to his ankle in September’s stalemate at Burnley.
And Poyet admits it has been tough to see the duo face such a hefty lay-off – particularly when Sunderland’s squad has been stretched by other injuries – but says he has simply had to focus on those players who have been available.
“It’s been frustrating. They’ve been out longer than we expected for different reasons,” added the Uruguayan.
“But I try – it’s not easy – not to think too much about it. I try to concentrate on which players I have available.
“You can’t spend your time thinking about who you haven’t got, because they are not there.
“Yes, I knew how long they would be out because I speak with the doc.
“But they are nearly there now which is great.”