Speaking in his pre-match press conference on Friday, Neil outlined the latest regarding the 21-year-old’s fitness situation heading into today’s clash.
The Black Cats boss said: “Leon was ill and he trained on the Thursday and the Saturday last week, so he had only done a couple of days and, unlike the rest of the lads, he hadn’t done the 90 minutes prior [in a pre-season friendly], because over the last two friendlies all the other lads got 90 minutes under their belts and unfortunately Leon didn’t, so that put him a bit behind the curve.
“But he has trained this week so he is there, but equally the other lads have all trained as well so we will see where we go tomorrow.”
As Neil mentioned, the attacker was not included in Sunderland’s squad for their opening league game of the season last weekend as they drew 1-1 with Coventry City.
The Black Cats signed the 21-year-old on loan from Union Berlin last summer. After making 22 League One appearances for the Wearside club, in which he supplied four goals and four assists, Sunderland signed him on a permanent deal in May.
Bearing in mind how Dajaku’s versatility allowed him to play on either side of the midfield and attack last season, in addition to taking 23 shots at goal and delivering 53 crosses, it’s safe to say that the German is a useful asset for Neil and could be an important figure for them this season.
While the Sunderland manager didn’t confirm whether the youngster would be fit enough to start this afternoon, potentially having him as an option from the bench would still be a big boost for the Black Cats.
Having been unable to secure the three points last weekend, having the German available then could have been enough to get Sunderland over the line and get their campaign off to a winning start.
If the attacker is fit enough to start against the Robins today, Neil will have a tough decision to make as to whether he includes the 21-year-old in the starting XI or sticks with the same team which drew against Coventry.