Duncan Watmore is ahead of schedule in his return from injury and could prove a huge boost for Sunderland’s survival hopes.
The youngster limped off in Sunderland’s 2-2 draw at Anfield after suffering ligament damage to his ankle. He was initially set to be out for three months, leaving any chances of him featuring again this season very slim.
However, the 22-year-old has said to have cut his return time by two weeks and could well be fit for his side’s five remaining games.
Watmore has upped the intensity of his training programme and may join up with the rest of his teammates in the next fortnight.
The youngster, who was awarded a new five-year contract after a run of impressive performances earlier in the season, could be back for Arsenal’s visit to the Stadium of Light at the end of April.
Watmore impressed after coming on as a substitute in the Wearsiders' League Cup tie at home to Exeter City and helped his side progress into the next round.
He also grabbed a consolation goal, his first in the Premier League, in Sunderland’s 3-1 defeat to Norwich City under Dick Advocaat. The forward gave his side a much needed lift after coming as a late substitute against Crystal Palace too, where Sam Allarydce’s men took all three points.
The youngster then became known as a bit of a super sub and came on against Stoke City to seal the win win late on as he scored with his second Premier League goal. That game was also the last time Sunderland kept a clean sheet.
Having made full use of the England youth international’s potential, Allardyce will be delighted with his timely return.
Selection headache for Big Sam
Meanwhile, new signing Emmanuel Eboue is in contention to play this weekend after recovering from a hamstring injury. The right-back came through 90 minutes unscathed in a behind closed doors friendly against Middlesbrough.
The 32-year-old may well be called into action as fellow right-back DeAndre Yedlin won’t return from his international duties until Friday.