Henderson targets early Cats return
JORDAN HENDERSON is hoping to hand Sunderland a much-needed boost by returning for the final eight matches of the season. Henderson, who has been the Black Cats' best midfielder this season, has been sidelined since damaging his ankle ligaments in this month's 1-1 draw with Wigan. It was initially feared the 19- year-old had torn ligaments, an injury that would have ruled him out of the season, but those concerns were allayed when a series of scans revealed less serious damage. As a result, he has already been able to start his rehabilitation, and while he remains likely to miss Sunderland's next three matches, he is targeting a return in the home game against Birmingham on March 20. My target is to get back for the last eight games of the season, said Henderson, who might well have found himself in Stuart Pearce's England Under-21 squad next week had he not become the latest Sunderland player to suffer an injury. The ankle's getting a lot better, and I'm starting to do a lot more work now. Initially, it was feared I would be out for three months. Once I got my scan, that came down to about eight weeks, and now I'm hoping it might end up being somewhere like six. I'm keen to get back as quickly as I can, but I'm obviously having to listen to what the physios are telling me. I want to be playing, but I have to be sensible about things as well. I don't want to come back too quickly and cause more damage. Ironically, Henderson was injured at roughly the same stage of last season, with a broken metatarsal bringing a successful loan spell at Coventry City to an abrupt halt. Sunderland's medical staff feared the worst this season after Henderson left the Stadium of Light pitch on a stretcher following a tackle from Wigan defender Titus Bramble. When I first did it, I thought it was a bad one, said Henderson. My first thought was that I might not be playing again this season. But it hasn't turned out to be as bad as it could have been. I've just tried to stay positive. The ligaments weren't torn it was only moderate damage and that was good news. Since then, it's just been a case of resting it really. I've had lots of massages to try to get the swelling away, and I've gone through loads and loads of ice. Now, I'm starting to build things up a bit more. The speed of Henderson's recovery has provided a rare piece of good news for a Sunderland side that have slipped into the heart of the relegation battle in recent weeks. Last weekend's 2-0 defeat at Arsenal left the Black Cats just three points above the relegation zone. Henderson admits recent matches have been difficult to watch from the stands, but detected signs of a recovery in Saturday's reverse at the Emirates. It's hard to watch and not be able to get involved, he said. I don't enjoy it, but I think the lads are working hard. I thought we could have nicked it at the end against Wigan, and against Arsenal I also thought we played well. I think it's coming. Things are slowly turning around. Last night's reserves game between Sunderland and Liverpool was postponed because of a frozen pitch at Eppleton Colliery's Welfare Ground.
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