HAVING felt the full impact of Covid cases and injuries in the squad, Sunderland expect to see a number of players return to action this weekend for the trip to Accrington Stanley.

Seven players have been ruled out in recent games due to positive Covid infections including Thorben Hoffman, Lee Burge, Frederik Alves, Cieran Dunne, Leon Dajaku and Benji Kimpioka.

Aiden O’Brien had been feeling the after effects of his Covid infection at the weekend but was fit enough to return to the side for last night’s defeat to 3-1 Lincoln City in League One.

One man who was unable to return to the fold at the Stadium of Light was defender Bailey Wright who is currently out injured. It’s unclear whether he will be available for this weekend’s game at the Wham Stadium.

Lee Johnson and his side will need to reset when it comes to their latest setback. The defeat means they remain second in the table level on points with leaders Rotherham United but the Millers have two games in hand. Meanwhile, Wigan Athletic are four points behind them but have five games in hand.

“Well what else can we do?” said Johnson. “We have to regroup, dust the boys off.

“It’s good to get a fair few players back. I think that’s very important. Now that with the Covid situation and hopefully injuries wise to be able to freshen it up going into the next game and that’s very much needed.

“There was players going into that game (against Lincoln City) with little knocks and niggles. Your likes of (Alex) Pritchard that was 50-50 whether he played or not and, again, he showed that character to get out there and fair play to him.”

Chris Maguire came back to haunt his old side last night scoring a hat-trick at SoL as the Imps secured a valuable win on Wearside.