IN his three games as Sunderland manager, Chris Coleman has already taken a shine to Joel Asoro.

He’s helped create two goals from his cameo appearances from the substitutes’ bench, but Coleman’s plans to give him a first league start for the Black Cats at Wolves tomorrow are in doubt.

The 18-year-old Swede’s hopes of making Coleman’s side from the off at Molineux depend on his recovery from a knock last weekend and his reaction in training today.

Loading article content

“Wolves is a tough one. But we saw young Joel Asoro come on last week and he did well, the same the game before,’’ said Coleman.

“He had a real bad fall and banged his head, we have had to be careful and he’s not trained all week. He trained today, a light session and will again on Friday, but will he start? That’s a different question.

“The young lad is confident and won’t be put off by starting at Wolves, it wouldn’t faze him.

“Mentally he is ready and shown good glimpses of ability. Josh Maja is to come back after injury, a good young player and I think these boys have something to say, I really do.’’

Bryan Ovideo (hamstrings) and Paddy McNair (groin) are already ruled of the game against the Championship leaders. As is Callum McManaman after his sending-off last week.

“After Saturday we have lost Bryan Oveido, two to three weeks, Paddy McNair another week before he’s joining in. Billy Jones had a light training session today, as did Didier N’Dong, but nowhere near to play. They both came through OK.

“The last thing we need is more injuries, but it’s where we are. Looking forward it will give some of the younger players a taste of it, some have a bit experience of it, and will get more.’’

Wolves have set the pace at the top of the table, spending big over the summer and have dropped just four points from a possible 30 at home, winning eight.

The Black Cats’ only wins this season have been on the road, but tomorrow will prove a different scenario to the trip to Burton Albion two weeks ago, where Coleman recorded his first victory since taking over on Wearside.

“At the bottom, going to the top, a team on the back of six wins and playing with confidence – it’s a huge challenge, a great game I think,’’ the manager reflected. “The crowd, the atmosphere and we are up against the best team in the league at the moment. It’s a challenge.

“For me, I’ve never gone into a game thinking how it may be perceived outside our club. If I am managing a team or playing in a team, I didn’t care who I was up against. You always have a chance.

“Go with any doubt in your head then there’s no point in getting on the bus. There’s always a chance, it’s the same league. They may be top and we may be bottom, but at the minute it’s the same level.

“We go there and believe in a possibility of doing something.’’

Mick McCarthy, the former Sunderland chief and current Ipswich boss, branded Wolves’ spending as “outrageous”. They shelled out £15m on midfielder Ruben Neves. Sunderland’s lack of spending in the transfer market is well documented and Coleman accepts things are unlikely to change in the January window.

Of tomorrow’s opponents he admitted: “They have invested and invested a lot – they have some terrific players and play great football, a Premier League style of football. Good set-up, big club.

“They spent a lot in the summer, but they are walking the walk and they look to me the best in the league on the back of spending a hell of a lot of money.

“This job is one which we need something to go for us. You want to come in fresh, a new start, new beginning and sometimes you get an instant reaction and get a bit of momentum from it.’’

He added: “With a lot of aspects of our performance at Villa Park I was pleased, we win at Burton which was great. You hope for a bit of momentum to bring home and one moment last week where it’s 0-0, down to ten-men and as soon as we conceded I visibly see us go and everyone suffer.

“We were so flat because there was an expectation that we had turned the corner and it didn’t happen. I felt it myself if I’m honest.

“It’s not the first time I’ve fallen flat on my face, but the feeling is the same. We have to get on with it no matter who we are playing, no matter how many injuries. I know it’s not a quick fix, it’s going to be gradual.

“But I’m confident we will turn it around and start going in the right direction.’’