Michael Beale has revealed when two of his Sunderland players could return from their respective injuries.
Sunderland are back in action this evening as they travel to Ipswich Town in the Championship.
Michael Beale defeated Preston North End and Hull City over the Christmas break, and he now looks to win his third game in the dugout.
The 43-year-old has the bulk of his team at his disposal in what will be a difficult test for the Black Cats, despite some growing pains.
Beale is especially light on the ground at full-back.
After learning that Dennis Cirkin and Niall Huggins would miss the remainder of the season, there have been requests for Sunderland to make an investment in that position.
Meanwhile, injuries to Patrick Roberts and Bradley Dack have left him with limited options at the top end of the pitch with Alex Pritchard likely to continue in his role on the right flank.
In terms of long-term absentees, two players who have been forgotten about are midfielder Corry Evans and Elliot Embleton.
Beale has now provided an update on his long-term injured duo.
Michael Beale outlines when Corry Evans and Elliot Embleton could return
After breaking his leg in the previous season, Embelton signed a season-long loan with League One team Derby County in an attempt to play more regularly.
However, the 24-year-old only made two appearances for the Rams before suffering a catastrophic thigh injury during training. As a result, he had to have surgery and had to go back to the North East to continue his recuperation.
Now that his return to Sunderland has been announced, he has two options: he can join the squad or go out on loan this month, and Beale believes the latter is more likely.
“He doesn’t seem like he’s a million miles away from rejoining the group,” said Beale.
“He’s another one that is out working with the performance staff to make sure he’s getting the very best rehab he can.
“He’s obviously a boy who knows this club and knows what it takes to play for this club, so I’ve no doubt that he’s going to be champing at the bit to contribute.”
After rupturing his cruciate ligament against Middlesbrough 12 months ago, Evans has been out of action since with Luke O’Nien assuming the role of captaincy in his place.
The 33-year-old has suffered an agonising wait to return and that wish be granted in a months time, according to Beale.
He said: “When I came in they said he was still a couple of months away. I’ve been in nearly four weeks so probably four or five weeks before he’s back with the team.”
Will they play a part in Beale’s plans?
What role Evans and Embleton will play in Beale’s plans after they return is yet unknown.
Since their injuries, a lot has changed at the Stadium of Light.Dan Neil, Joel Bellingham, and Pierre Ekwah have solidified their position as a midfield trio, and it may take something exceptional for any one of them to overtake the others.
Like Ekwah and Embleton, Evans is a midfield anchor who prefers to play on the wings or in an advanced midfield role.