Why Sunderland boss is 'on edge' ahead of facing Portsmouth

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Lee Johnson admitted he’s feeling some trepidation ahead of facing Pompey after being hit with a spate of training ground knocks.

The Sunderland boss revealed his men picked up a flurry of issues, as his side prepared to welcome the Blues to the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

Johnson’s & Co are looking to cement their promotion credentials against Danny Cowley’s side, after a run of one league defeat in 12.

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The former Bristol City boss is hopeful none of the knocks will prove too troublesome, but stated he can’t say how he will set up against Pompey at this stage.

Sunderland will be without long-term absentees Luke O’Nien and Aiden McGeady, but are expected to be boosted by the returns of Leon Dajaku and Corry Evans against the Blues.

New arrival Danny Batth is expected to be available but Alex Pritchard and Bailey Wright aren’t deemed fully fit.

Johnson told the Sunderland Echo: ‘We must have had about nine little contact knocks in training today.

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‘They’re nothing serious and nothing to worry about in terms of Saturday’s game, but I’m of course always on edge in training sessions because we’re so light at the moment.

Sunderland boss Lee Johnson.Sunderland boss Lee Johnson.
Sunderland boss Lee Johnson.

‘But we’re on the right track – players are returning from Covid and from injuries – Leon Dajaku is back available, and Corry Evans was out last weekend but will hopefully be in contention for this week.

‘Danny is available for selection, yes. Alex Pritchard and Bailey Wright came away from training this morning not 100 per cent from their knocks, but hopefully they should be fine for Saturday.

‘It’s a bit of a juggling act at the moment, and I wouldn’t be able to tell you our team or our shape because as it stands, we’re going to have to be flexible going into the game. But as I say, we’re getting stronger.

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‘That applies in the long term too – Luke O’Nien and Aiden McGeady are both back on the grass.

‘If you listen to Luke, he wants to come back quicker than anyone ever has from an injury like his, and I wouldn’t put it past him.

‘He’ll have laser focus on his rehab. Geads (McGeady) has tentatively joined in light training, so we’re building his physical fitness and monitoring that medial ligament.’

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