Lamine Kone insists he is injury-free for Sunderland’s crunch clash against West Brom this weekend, despite pulling out of international duty.
January signing Kone missed the Ivory Coast’s back-to-back African Cup of Nations qualifiers as a precaution after sustaining a calf problem during the Tyne-Wear derby a fortnight ago.
But the centre-half has recovered well during the break from Premier League action and expects to keep his place for tomorrow’s visit of the Baggies, as Sunderland look to record their first win in five games.
“I had a bit of a problem with my calf in the game against Newcastle, and we didn’t really want to take the risk by going away on international duty,” said Kone.
“It was better to stay here, so I could make sure I was fit.
“Hopefully, I will be in the squad for West Brom without any problems.”
Kone has partnered fellow French-speaking defender Younes Kaboul for the last two games and the duo have immediately formed an effective double-act.
Kaboul was forced off in the latter stages of the derby, but has been back in full training this week, with the ex-Spurs man expected to get the nod ahead of Cats captain John O’Shea.
“I played the first few games with John O’Shea and the last two alongside Younes,” said Kone.
“I get on really well with both of them on and off the pitch, which is important.
“Things are going well, we’ve gelled together and we’ve got a good understanding.”