LEE JOHNSON admits he and his medical staff have “gone back to the drawing board” during the international break in order to restore Aiden McGeady to full fitness.

McGeady has been sidelined since being dismissed in last month’s 5-1 defeat to Rotherham, with Johnson admitting the 35-year-old had played at the New York Stadium despite suffering with a hamstring issue.

Given his age, it is perhaps understandable that McGeady is finding it difficult to play three games in a week without any issues, and Johnson accepts he will have to be carefully managed for the remainder of the season.

Having had a clear two weeks in which to build up his fitness though, the Black Cats boss is confident McGeady is ready to hit the ground running when Sunderland return to action against Ipswich Town tomorrow.

“In the Rotherham game, Geads played, unbeknownst to us, with a hamstring injury,” said Johnson. “I wouldn’t say his athletic performance was up to the levels that Aiden McGeady at 35, or any other age, can produce.

“In certain areas of the game, that cost us. Probably in any footballer’s head, they’re being brave by playing through because their intention is to produce for the team, which we know Aiden McGeady obviously can, particularly when he’s on the ball.

“For whatever reason, it ended up having a detrimental effect in that particular game, and we’ve had to go back to the drawing board to try to rebuild Geads physically, and make sure he’s in a good place.

“Now, he is in a good place, he’s moving well – the eye tells me that he’s moving well – and technically I think he’ll be the same until he’s 65. I think you could put him on any pitch in the world, if he didn’t have to run, and he could play those magic balls until his body completely gives up on him and he’s dead.

“However, obviously the game is about more than just the two or three minutes that each individual has on the ball. Certainly, looking at him, he’s going to be an important player for us, particularly moving into these next 11 games that we’re really focused on to stamp our authority on the division.”