JACK ROSS is hoping Aiden McGeady will be able to limp through to the end of the season, but the Sunderland boss will not select the winger if he thinks there is any risk of him sustaining any long-term damage to his foot.

McGeady damaged his foot in the 3-0 win at Accrington Stanley at the start of the month, and has been playing through the pain barrier ever since.

The Irish international is having to take a regular supply of painkillers and is unable to train between matches, but has been involved in Sunderland’s last three games.

He should be available to start Saturday’s crucial promotion clash with Portsmouth, but his fitness is being monitored on a day-to-day basis with Ross determined to avoid any long-term issues.

The Sunderland boss said: “He’s got an unusual injury to his foot. It’s to do with the joint in his foot, it’s not really a clear one to describe. It was the result of the way he landed at Accrington, and it’s been quite painful for him. But he’s been desperate to play in these games.

“When the injury happened, if the medical advice at the time had been that his season was finished, then we would have accepted that, both Aiden and myself. We got two or three different opinions, and once we understood there was a chance of him playing, that changed our thought process a little bit.

“Then, it became a case of having dialogue between Aiden, myself and the medical department to see if there was a possibility of him being able to play. We got to that position, and he’s been able to do so.

“His contribution in the games he’s played has still been good. It’s a trade-off at the moment, and if there was a significant deterioration in how he was feeling, then we would change our thought process on it. That’s been something we’ve looked at on a day-by-day and week-by-week basis.

“We’ve never made the decision that we will continue as is until the end of the season, or ruled him out. We’ve just looked at him week by week, and made judgement calls whenever we’ve got closer to a game.”

McGeady’s willingness to continue playing underlines the extent of his desire to contribute to Sunderland’s ongoing promotion push, but has not come as a surprise to Ross, who has been impressed with the 33-year-old’s attitude all season.

He said: “He’s been a really big player for us this season, and I think that’s been recognised by others as well. I’ve spoken a lot about how he’s bought in to what we’ve brought to the club.

“His determination to play a part in the latter stages of the season was evident from when he first had the injury. He’s mature and sensible, and he’s at an age where I can have that type of conversation with him. Hopefully, he feels like he’s got that relationship with me, where we can speak openly about it.

“Right away, his desire to keep playing was evident, and it was brilliant for me to have that, but I’ve got a duty of care to him as well. If it was so bad that it was going to affect him hugely, we wouldn’t do it. And if there was a danger to his future, because he’s still got years of playing ahead of him, then we wouldn’t do it either. We’ve looked at it sensibly throughout.”