Tony Mowbray explains his patient approach with key Sunderland player

DENNIS CIRKIN has successfully completed two matches this week without any injury setbacks. However, Tony Mowbray is hesitant to immediately place the Sunderland defender in the starting lineup for the upcoming match against Norwich City at the Stadium of Light. Cirkin, who had been recovering from a hamstring injury suffered in early September, participated in the first 45 minutes of an Under-21s’ friendly against Hibernian, which took place behind closed doors on Monday. He then made a substitute appearance in the final half-hour of Sunderland’s Championship loss to Leicester City at the King Power on Tuesday evening. Cirkin has displayed no adverse effects from this back-to-back schedule, but given Niall Huggins’ effective performance at left-back in Cirkin’s absence, Mowbray is not in a hurry to reintroduce the 21-year-old to the starting lineup.

“Dennis played 45 minutes in the Under-21s on Monday and then 30 minutes on Tuesday night,” the Black Cats manager explained. “There are a few players in that boat who played in the Under-21s on Monday and then came with us the next day and got some game time.”


Dennis Cirkin - SAFC


“It’s a delicate balance when dealing with these players and preparing them for Championship matches. It’s not as simple as immediately fielding them for a full 90-minute game, as doing so could put them at risk due to the distinct tempo of Championship football.

I’m not complaining about injuries in general. We have some promising players on their way back, as evidenced by Dennis, who provides a natural left-footed balance on the pitch. Bradley Dack and Adil Aouchiche weren’t part of the squad at the King Power, and they won’t be involved when Norwich comes to the Stadium of Light this Saturday.

However, their injuries are not severe. Bradley is fine; he just needs time to regain match fitness after his six-week absence due to a hamstring injury. He trained fully with us yesterday, and we’re aiming for him to have a week of rigorous training to get back to full readiness for playing. As for Adil, the medical report suggests a recovery time of one to two weeks, so it’s not a long-term issue. I believe we’ll have the same group to choose from on Saturday.

Sunderland has experienced three consecutive defeats, following losses to Middlesbrough and Stoke City. It’s the first time we’ve suffered three league losses in a row under my management, but I’m not overly concerned about our form. I believe the team’s overall identity remains strong, and over time, if we perform as we know we can, we will secure many victories. I’m confident that we can string together three or four wins as we move forward, and it will all even out. The top teams ultimately finish at the top, while the less structured ones end up at the bottom. I’m pretty sure we’ll be in the top tier, but there are many competitive teams in this league.

The data shows we’ve lost three in a row, and we must accept it, even though the manner in which these games unfolded was tough to take. I’m certain our fortunes will change in due course.”

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