Sunderland reporter for The Chronicle James Hunter has been left thrilled by some injury news involving Niall Huggins.
The Lowdown: Rarely seen
Having signed a four-year deal at the Stadium of Light from Leeds United back in the 2021 summer transfer window, with manager at the time Lee Johnson praising his versatility, physicality and speed, the youngster looked a really exciting capture.
However, his career on Wearside has been plagued by injuries so far, and he has only managed to make four senior appearances since joining, and none since September of last year.
The Latest: U21s comeback
Taking to Twitter, Hunter gave his reaction after Huggins played 45 minutes for the Black Cats’ U21s in a 3-1 loss to Reading on Friday night, calling it a ‘big positive’:
“Despite the result, big positive takeaway from the U21 game was Huggins’ comeback. Just played the first 45mins but looked pretty sharp – you wouldn’t have known he’d been out for 13 months. Needs more gametime, but this was a good first step.”
He of course won’t be involved in the first-team this week against Wigan, but getting minutes under his belt is the first major step in making that leap back into the senior squad.
The Verdict: Promising signs
The fact that Huggins looked ‘sharp’ upon his return is a positive sign that he can recover from his long-term injury quickly and hopefully get back to playing regular football without any more problems.
There was a lot of promise when he first joined, and there could still be a place for him in Tony Mowbray’s squad.
A player capable of playing at both right-back and left-back, Mowbray only has two other natural full-backs in his senior squad, and so the 21-year-old could yet play a key role in the rest of the season.