Sunderland have been handed a boost regarding the fitness of Arbenit Xhemajli.
In recent comments cited by Chronicle Live, Lee Johnson revealed that the centre-back, who has been sidelined for almost a year due to a serious knee injury, has returned to full training with the Black Cats and will be eased back into action for the club’s U23 side in the coming weeks.
Regarding the current condition of Xhemajli, Johnson said: “Arbenit trained today, which was good. It was great to see him out there.
“Obviously, he is a bit of a way off, but he has trained properly for the last two days and that’s a real heartwarming thing to see because I know how hard he has had to work behind the scenes and how hard the physio department have had to work to get him to this point.
“I think we are still looking at a turn of the year timescale [for a first-team return]. But U23 games have got to be considered, probably over the next six weeks, I think that could be an option.
Considering the fact that Xhemajli has made just one first-team appearance for Sunderland since his move to the Stadium of Light back in September 2020, the news that the defender is nearing a return to full fitness is sure to have fans of the club buzzing.
While the centre of defence is a position in which Johnson strengthened this summer, bringing in the likes of West Ham United defender Frederik Alves and Manchester City centre-back Callum Doyle on season-long loan deals, the return of a player who was originally brought into the club as a first-team regular is undeniably positive news for Johnson.
Indeed, Xhemajli’s addition to the 40-year-old manager’s options at the back will only further strengthen Sunderland’s promotion credentials this season, something which already appear to be in very good shape following a fantastic start to their 2021/22 League One campaign.