PHIL PARKINSON wants to give Chris Maguire every chance of making this Saturday’s trip to promotion rivals Oxford United after leaving the pitch with a dead leg last night.

The 31-year-old has been in excellent form to help the Black Cats climb the League One table of late and had a hand in all three goals in the 3-0 win over Rochdale.

Maguire has become a key component under Parkinson and has struck 11 goals this season, ten in the league.

He has also scored more matching winning goals than any other player in League One this season.

Understandably Parkinson wants to give Maguire the time to recover and the signs are positive despite leaving the pitch on 72 minutes against the Dale, with the victory secured.

“Chris came off with a dead leg, there is no need to risk him as soon as he had taken the knock, we have got him off and he feels a lot better,” said Parkinson.

“We will assess in the next few days. We have lads out the team chomping at the bit. It’s difficult.

"The lads in the team have gone up a level. The best regulator of standards is training among the group and we are really pleased with everyone.

"If it was anything more serious for Chris I wouldn't take any risk at all but we'll just see how he is.

"Chrissy and Lynden Gooch at the minute are doing what they're paid for, and that's producing. That's important for players in their positions."

Joel Lynch is still being monitored having suffered a rib injury when he was left concussed against Portsmouth ten days ago. He hopes to the defender back in training on Monday.

By that time Sunderland hope to have closed the four-point gap to the top two further, having lost just one of their last 12 league games.

Parkinson said: “We are always looking to improve, when you don’t get a result you analyse and when you win you can’t just say you have cracked it.

"What areas could we have got better at? We will do that. We have a few days before the next game and we will take our time. We will build towards the weekend.

“We always strive to go for the win, Oxford are a good team, been there once in the cup, lost on penalties.

"They have had a decent cup run, losing to Newcastle the other night. They have a few problems, injuries suspensions.

“We have to look at it closely, look at areas to exploit and be as threatening we have been in the second half v Ipswich and first half against Rochdale.

"Every game is huge, no three points is bigger. If they are against a potential rival then it is to stop them going again.”