THE idea is simple for Sunderland. Get the most gifted player in League One on the pitch and the draws which dogged the club last season will be turned to wins.

But Aiden McGeady has long been suffering from a foot injury. It hampered his impact at the end of last season, affected him during pre-season and makes him only a possible starter at Ipswich this afternoon.

He was on the bench last weekend in the opening game with Oxford at the Stadium of Light, introduced for the final 20 minutes in the hope he his spark could engineer a winning goal.

“Being on the bench on Saturday was more about general fitness than his foot, he’d missed the bulk of pre-season,’’ said Jack Ross. “This week we’ve played an in-house game and he’s trained all week so I’m really judging him as being fully fit now – well, it’s a bit dramatic to say he’s completely fully fit but he’s pretty much close to full fitness now, which is a boost for us.

“We know the quality he has so naturally you want to have him on the pitch as much as you can.

“At times at the end of last season and on Saturday we probably brought him back into the fold a bit quicker but equally he’s been hungry to do that.

“Getting him on the pitch on Saturday was a boost because really a few weeks ago we thought that was unlikely. The fact he’s trained properly and fully this week – even earlier in pre-season he was doing a couple of days and then we were leaving him for a day or so.

“Having him back available and fully fit is a real boost.’’

Last season’s McGeady signed a one-year contract extension over the summer, but that included a pay-cut as the club cut its cloth accordingly.

Ross added: “I think he enjoyed last season and that was reflected in his contribution on the park and the manner in which he played. I think he’s settled on and off the pitch and I have a good relationship with him.

“I think he’s enjoyed his football under me and his willingness to stay at the club was encouraging. I think he feels he’s still got some things to put right in terms of getting us promoted.

“He showed a determination to do that last year and hopefully it was a positive reflection on us that he was so willing to stay here.”

McGeady is one of a number of injuries Ross has to contend with, and Duncan Watmore is again absent for today’s trip to Portman Road.

“We have a few missing still – be some closer to full fitness. Aiden has had another full week and is up to speed, Max (Power) has trained, Duncan has had a knock, Charlie (Wyke) is still out.

“Ethan (Robson) is unavailable, but those who missed a chunk of pre-season are getting there.

“Of course we want them all available off of pre-season, but the majority have been there for the majority of sessions.

“We have generally been OK, a bit of frustration with niggles but by and large been OK.’’