CRAIG GORDON is aiming to feature in the Sunderland squad for the Premier League opener at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday after recovering from a knee injury.
The Scotland goalkeeper is expected to play for the Black Cats reserves against Unibond Premier League outfit Guiseley this evening as he steps up his recovery.
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce was keen to test the keepers fitness at Hearts last Saturday before the club physio advised a more cautious approach.
After figuring in less than a third of his sides league games last term, Gordons campaign was ended prematurely following the Wearsiders victory against Hull City on April 18. Fears that Gordon was set for an another extended spell on the sidelines led Bruce to consider recruiting an experienced replacement with David James and Portugal international Ricardo identified as possible stand-ins. But the Sunderland manager has been reassured by Gordons return to full training and is considering playing a behindclosed- doors friendly later this week to give the Scotland number one every chance of featuring at the Reebok.
Gordon confirmed his main target now is to regain the Sunderland No. 1 jersey from Marton Fulop.
Im not feeling any pain in the knee now so its just a case of building the strength back up, confirmed the £9m signing. It would have been nice to play (against Hearts).
It would have been good even just to get five or ten minutes at the end but it wasnt to be.
I was out training before the warm-up and went through a really good session.
The manager was almost tempted to give me ten minutes at the end but the physio was against it.
Its been a progression over the last few days and I was almost getting up to full speed there, which is nice for me personally to feel that things are getting back to normal.
In the meantime, Lyon wont allow centre-half John Mensah to move to Sunderland on a season-long loan insisting the Black Cats pay £7m to secure the Ghana international on a permanent basis. Bruce may now switch his attention to Sylvain Distin of Portsmouth who is available for £4.5m.
Sunderland have announced their squad numbers for the upcoming season.
Record signing Darren Bent will wear the number 11 shirt while Fraizer Campbell sports number 9 on his back.