Sunderland striker Jones a protected species as Sbragia trains him with care
02 March 2009 04:12
Sunderland manager Ricky Sbragia has admitted he is wrapping striker Kenwyne Jones in cotton wool to keep him fit for Sunderland's bid for Barclays Premier League survival.
The Trinidad and Tobago striker is expected to partner fit-again Djibril Cisse at Liverpool on Tuesday night but he is nursing the repercussions of the knee injury suffered during the friendly with England last summer.
Sbragia revealed Jones has been sitting out training sessions in a bid to remain match-fit as Sunderland look to steer clear of the bottom three.
Sbragia said: 'We're working him a bit less than the others because he's been out so long. He's come back and done terrific but he's got a lot of knocks.
'He wants to carry on so sometimes we have to cut the minutes in training. We can see it's enough for him because he still has to do rehab on his knee. We'll take him out of training early and have him doing 50 per cent of the physical work.
'We want him to play in every game so we have to sacrifice the training because of it. He's not happy when he's not involved but he sees the bigger picture when a lot of players don't. We want him to play every game left this season but he probably couldn't manage that on full training.'
The Sunderland manager has told Scotland international Craig Gordon to fight for his Wearside future after losing his No 1 spot to Marton Fulop.
The Hungary international and former Spurs keeper signed a new contract last week as reward for his improved performances in Gordon's absence and Sbragia is not expecting the Scot to be pleased after overcoming a long-term ankle problem.
Sbragia said: 'I'd hope Craig wouldn't be happy being out of the team. I spoke to him for about 20 minutes about the situation and we've got better competition now.
'Marton's done extremely well and, if it was the other way round, how would Craig feel if I just dropped him all of a sudden and put Marton in?
'He's got to fight for his place, he knows that, and he's willing to do that. Marton's taken his chance. Craig's worked hard. He's slightly happy but really disappointed not to play.
'Marton's not under total pressure, and it's not as if he makes a mistake he's straight out of the team. He's kept Craig out with his work ethic and he deserved his new contract.'