JOEL LYNCH is back in contention for a place in the squad for Sunderland’s home game with Fleetwood Town tomorrow.

Lynch has missed the Black Cats’ last four matches with a calf injury, but having trained this morning, the centre-half will be considered for action against a Fleetwood side currently two places below the Wearsiders in the table.

Sunderland have racked up four wins from four in Lynch’s absence, but with Bailey Wright having sustained a long-term injury, the defender’s return will still provide a timely boost as the season heads into its most critical phase.

Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson said: “Joel is back in training today. As long as he’s had no reaction to his rib injury, we’ll assess him for tomorrow and with the weekend’s game in mind as well.”

Alim Ozturk replaced Wright as Sunderland beat Bristol Rovers at the weekend, and Parkinson was impressed with the Turk’s return to the starting line-up.

He said: “Alim was excellent at the weekend. We expected that from him because he was doing well before he got left out of the team. Now, he has to keep it going.”

Sunderland head into tomorrow’s game having lost just one of their last 14 matches, but they will be taking on a Fleetwood side in equally impressive form.

Joey Barton’s side are unbeaten in eight matches and have won five games on the spin, and while they might not be one of the more fashionable teams in League One, Parkinson is not surprised to see them challenging for promotion.

He said: “They’re a good side, and they’ve been knocking on the door at the top end for quite a while now. They were third the year we got promoted at Bolton and were challenging us for promotion right to the end.

“I’m not surprised they’re up there, but we’ve played a few teams who have been up at the top of league recently and done well against them. Teams have come here on good runs and we’ve done well. We’ve got to relish this next challenge.”