Tony Mowbray wants Sunderland defender Dennis Cirkin to be patient.

Dennis Cirkin, the Sunderland defender, has successfully completed two recent appearances without any injury setbacks. However, when Norwich City visits the Stadium of Light this weekend, manager Tony Mowbray is hesitant to immediately reintroduce him into the starting lineup. Cirkin, who had been sidelined due to a hamstring injury sustained in early September, played the first 45 minutes in an Under-21s’ friendly against Hibernian on Monday and then came off the bench for the final 30 minutes in Sunderland’s Championship defeat to Leicester City on Tuesday. Although Cirkin has shown no adverse effects from these two matches, Niall Huggins has performed well as a left-back in his absence, prompting Mowbray to take a cautious approach in reinstating the 21-year-old into the starting eleven. Mowbray expressed, “Dennis played 45 minutes in the Under-21s on Monday and then 30 minutes on Tuesday night. There’s a few players in that boat who played in the Under-21s on Monday and then came with us and got some game time the very next day. It’s a balancing act with these players in terms of getting them up to speed where they can play in the Championship. It’s not as easy as putting players straight back in for 90 minutes; you’re putting them in jeopardy if you do that because it’s a different tempo in the Championship. Generally, I’m not moaning about injuries. We’ve got some pretty good players on their way back who will help us, as you saw with Dennis – giving us that balance with his natural left foot on that side.”

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In addition, Bradley Dack and Adil Aouchiche did not feature in the squad at the King Power, and they won’t be involved when Norwich visits the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon. Fortunately, their injuries are not severe, with Dack already making progress in his training program at the Academy of Light. Mowbray commented, “They’re not bad injuries at all. Bradley is fine, it’s just that he’s needed to get up to speed having missed six weeks or however long it was with a hamstring injury. He trained fully with us (yesterday), we just need him to train for a week, work hard, and get right up to speed so he’s ready to play. Adil, the medical report tells me it’s one to two weeks, so that’s not going to be a long problem. But I think we’ll have the same group to select from on Saturday.”

Sunderland recently suffered their third consecutive defeat, following losses to Middlesbrough and Stoke City. This marks the first time under Mowbray’s management that the team has experienced three league losses in a row. However, Mowbray remains confident in the team’s overall identity and believes that they will bounce back in the long run. He stated, “Generally, I think the overall identity of the team is still strong, and we believe that over the longer piece, if we play as well as we know we can, we will win plenty of games. I’m pretty sure we will finish at the top end, but there are a lot of good teams in this league who are going to be very competitive. The data is there, we have lost three on the bounce, and we just have to accept it, and yet it is tough to take given the way those games have panned out. It’ll turn for us, of that I’m sure.”

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