Despite putting in a positive performance at Preston North End, Simon Grayson has explained why the international break came at a good time for Sunderland.
The Black Cats were unlucky not to come away with three points at Deepdale, and although they’re itching to get back out on the grass, they have used the two-week break from domestic action to their advantage.
A number of players have rested up and nursed minor knocks, with Paddy McNair returning to action for the under-23s and others coming through international duty unscathed.
And speaking ahead of Saturday’s game at the Stadium of Light, the Sunderland boss provided the latest from within the camp.
“We’re looking good and it’s come at a time when we needed to get work into the players that needed it,” said Grayson.
“A few players have been carrying injuries as well which has given us the opportunity to get them rested up, and seven or eight players have been away on international duty and most of them reported back in a good state.”
He continued: “As you saw in the under-23 game earlier in the week, Duncan got another 45 minutes and Paddy made a successful return.
“With Paddy, he’s one of the ones who is going to be a little bit longer because of the time he’s been out, but scoring on his return was brilliant for him.
“Maja has returned to training and Lewis Grabban isn’t too far away, so the players we’re getting back are going to make a good impact on the squad.
“We’re getting players closer and if it’s not this weekend then I expect a few more to be closer to it the following weekend at Brentford.
“Paddy will go and play at Arsenal to get some more game time, but other than that it’s nice to have a few more back in the squad and available.”