Sunderland will be without Aji Alese until after the upcoming international break, as reported by journalist Phil Smith. The defender will need time to regain match fitness before he can assume a significant role. Aji Alese, who signed a three-year deal with Sunderland from West Ham last summer, quickly became a fan favorite with 22 appearances in his debut season at the club.
However, the versatile defender has been sidelined since a season-ending thigh injury in March. Although he was part of the squad for Sunderland’s play-off clash with Luton Town in May, he has been dealing with the same injury since then. Alese primarily played on the left side of defense during his first year with Sunderland, but due to the strong performances of Niall Huggins and Dennis Cirkin in his absence, manager Tony Mowbray may consider shifting him to the center.
Fans have been eager to see the 22-year-old in action, but it appears they will have to wait for over three weeks for his full return to fitness. Phil Smith, in a Q&A with Sunderland Echo, mentioned, “Aji Alese is expected to return soon, but due to the length of his absence, he will require time to regain match fitness. Therefore, he is unlikely to play a prominent role until after the next international break.”
The question remains whether Aji Alese can earn his way back into Sunderland’s starting lineup. His past performances before the injury were outstanding, and his presence in the squad would be a valuable asset. However, it’s probable that he will spend some time on the bench initially after such a lengthy absence. Nonetheless, his comeback this month is a positive step in the right direction.