SUNDERLAND manager Lee Johnson has delivered encouraging news on his three long-term absentees with Luke O’Nien, Nathan Broadhead and Aiden McGeady all continuing their own respective rehabilitation.

Midfielder O’Nien was ruled out for three months at the end of November to have surgery on a long standing shoulder problem. The 27-year-old has recently been back on the training ground at the Academy of Light.

Striker Broadhead is currently with his parent club Everton recovering from a long-term hamstring injury. The Black Cats are hopeful that he will still be able to play some part this season.

Winger McGeady has been suffering with a foot problem but is expected to return quicker than the other two players. As the evidence will show, McGeady has been back in light training with the squad which has pleased the manager.

Johnson said: “If you listen to Luke, he is a very positive character and, as we know, full of beans.

“He’s hoping to come back quicker than anyone else has ever come back from that type of injury and I wouldn’t put it past him if I’m honest. I know he will have laser light focus on that rehab.

“Fitness wise, I don’t think Luke will ever be a problem. He could not play for a full year and then step into 90 minutes and not have an issue. He’ll do bags of running between now and then, obviously under supervision, but more than likely he’ll be doing stuff on his own as well. Any boast like that will be massive.

“(Nathan) Broadhead seems to be progressing quite nicely from all the intel that we are getting back from Everton which is good.

“McGeady has been out tentatively joining in. So we’ve been allowing him to be the floater, we’ve been allowing him to get involved in passing drills. He’s quite a way off in terms of his physical fitness and also still getting a pinch in that medial ligament but it’s nice to just have him out there and try and design sessions around keeping him engaged and happy.”

Ahead of tomorrow’s game against Portsmouth at the Stadium of Light, they’re hopeful of having Bailey Wright, Alex Pritchard and Corry Evans available for the game who have all been struggling for fitness recently.

Defender Danny Batth is in line to make his debut for the club having completed a move to the club on Tuesday signing a two-and-a-half year deal.