John Egan

Egan's progress pleases Ball

by Stuart Vose

Defender making strides after overcoming serious injury.

Kevin Ball says young defender John Egan can be pleased with the progress he’s made since returning from his injury nightmare.

The Irishman had a lengthy spell on the sidelines after suffering a serious leg break whilst on loan at Bradford City early last season.

He returned to action with Sunderland’s development squad back in November before mounting another comeback following an ankle problem.

And Ball says the centre-back is back to his old self, culminating in a loan move to Southend where he has impressed whilst getting regular first-team football under his belt.

Since joining the League Two side at the end of February, Egan has made three appearances and scored his first goal in senior football with a 35-yard half-volley at Scunthorpe on Tuesday evening.

“His first game back from injury [against West Brom] was really interesting to watch because John played like an old-fashioned centre-back, heading and clearing,” Ball said following the development squad’s defeat at Norwich on Monday.

“After 20 minutes of the game I commented on that to Robbie [Stockdale] but we didn’t say anything to John – we just left him to it.

“He said afterwards that he just wanted to get back into things after we told him we noticed that because he can play out from the back and is a technically good player.

“In the next game, against Arsenal, we had the old John Egan back – he was playing the ball out from the back and passing it. All he needed was games.”

Ball continued: “John had another little niggle with his ankle which curtailed his appearances, but as soon as he got a good run of games people wanted him.

“I spoke to [Southend manager] Phil Brown after John's first game; he was delighted with him and said he was exactly what they needed – that’s a compliment to John and nice to hear from Phil.

“He’s had a few games down there now and played for Ireland as well and we’re delighted for him.”