Martin O'Neill has admitted to his frustration at once again being without winger Adam Johnson, as his side prepare for their Capital One Cup tie against the MK Dons.
Johnson, 25, joined the club from Manchester City in a deal worth an initial £10 million, but has been restricted to only two appearances due to a thigh injury.
The situation has ultimately seen O'Neill thwarted in his attempts to bed in his new acquisition, with the manager hoping a further week off will resolve Johnson's injury issues
He said: "The situation with Adam Johnson has been a wee bit frustrating. He did a bit of training with us last Thursday but didn't really feel great.
"He did a little bit on Friday too but he thinks the extra week will stand him in good stead, so we'll see how he is. We gave him the weekend off because the masseurs and physio were working with him, and we'll see how he goes on from there."
The Sunderland boss added: "I don't want people thinking I've sprung a surprise if he plays in the cup, but there would have to be an improvement."
O'Neill also said that despite injuries, he intends to name a strong squad for the trip to Stadium MK - with the former Aston Villa manager reiterating his desire to stay in the competition.
"It's a cup competition we would like to stay in having put on a decent performance against Morecambe a couple of weeks ago with a pretty strong side. I wouldn't want to bow out meekly." O'Neill explained.
"Milton Keynes have nothing to lose and they want to play against a Barclays Premier League side. The possibility of winning the game must have given them a major lift.
"From our own viewpoint, I will reiterate that we will be as strong as we possibly can be."