Lee Johnson has been handed a double injury boost ahead of Sunderland’s upcoming play-off semi-final.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Johnson hinted that both Tom Flanagan and Ross Stewart could make a return to the matchday squad for the Black Cats’ play-off semi-final against Lincoln City on Wednesday evening.
Stewart had missed the club’s final game of the regular season with a hamstring injury, an issue that also ruled him out of a behind-closed-doors friendly against the club’s U23 side on Friday, while Flanagan has not featured competitively for Sunderland since the Papa John’s Trophy final against Tranmere Rovers, also due to injury.
As cited by the Sunderland Echo, Johnson said: “We played against our U23s and Ross Stewart wasn’t involved in that but we are going to have a look at him over the next couple of days.
“We think he’s OK, and certainly if he gets through the final test, he would be ready to start, if we needed to.
“Tom has trained and it’s obviously something we’ve got to consider. He’s a top character, a top lad and he seems like he’s in good nick.”
With Johnson having lost a number of centre-backs in the closing stages of the season – with on-loan Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Dion Sanderson being ruled out for the rest of the season, in addition to Jordan Willis being sidelined for up to a further year after suffering a setback in his recovery from a knee injury – the news that Flanagan could feature in what is arguably Sunderland’s biggest game of the season so far is likely to leave Johnson buzzing.
Furthermore, while Stewart has not been a regular starter since joining the Black Cats from Ross County back in January, the centre-forward will provide the 39-year-old manager with another attacking option against Lincoln, something that could prove all the difference in the clash.
As such, things appear to be looking up at the Stadium of Light in terms of injuries, something that will undoubtedly provide Johnson and his players with a huge boost ahead of Wednesday’s massive fixture.