Sunderland manager Lee Johnson says he is hopeful that winger Patrick Roberts will make his debut for the club when they travel to Bolton Wanderers next Saturday.
Roberts completed a permanent move to the Stadium of Light from Manchester City earlier this week, signing a six-month deal, with the Black Cats holding the option to extend by a further 12 months.
The 24-year-old was not involved in the matchday squad on Saturday afternoon, as Sunderland picked up a big win in the promotion race, overcoming Portsmouth 1-0 thanks to Elliot Embleton’s 40th minute goal.
However, it now seems that Sunderland fans may not have to wait that much longer to see their latest recruit in action.
Providing an update on why Roberts was not involved against Pompey, and when he could make his debut after the game, Johnson was quoted by The Chronicle as saying: “Patrick was champing at the bit to be on the bench yesterday, and we had a big discussion about it between the football and the medical departments.
“The biggest problem is that he has been idle for six or seven days while this [his move] was being sorted out, so we felt that with the tempo we expected the Portsmouth game to be played at meant it wasn’t the right game for him.
“He will have had eight or nine days’ training by the time we go to Bolton, and I would hope that, if everything runs smoothly, he will potentially be available to be on the bench next weekend.”
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Following that win over Portsmouth, the Black Cats now sit are currently second in the League One table, level on points with league leaders Wigan Athletic, although they have played four more games than the Latics.
This does seem to be a sensible approach for Sunderland and Johnson to take with regards to Roberts.
Even before his time waiting for the deal to go through, the winger had played very little football during a loan spell with Troyes in the first-half of this season.
As a result, it is unlikely that he would have been close to match fitness for this one, which could have risked him picking up an injury if he had featured in such a high stakes.
Playing it safe therefore seems to have been the smart option, although given the potential he has, you feel plenty associated with the Black Cats will be excited to see Roberts in action sooner rather than later.