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Stoke settle in, seek away breakthrough

Stoke City
By ESPN Staff

Keane refuses to risk returning Jones in derby

Sunderland boss Roy Keane has admitted striker Kenwyne Jones is not in his plans for Saturday's derby clash with Newcastle - at least not yet.

The 24-year-old Trinidad and Tobago international is due to make his return from knee ligament damage for the reserves against Wigan on Wednesday night.

A successful appearance could persuade Keane to consider him for a role in the Wear-Tyne derby at the Stadium of Light, although the Irishman insists he is taking nothing for granted.

Keane said: ''I will see how he goes. We are all a bit wary of the fact that he is such a big man, he might need a few weeks to get up and running.

''If he comes through that with flying colours and there is no reaction... I have not really thought beyond that, but I wouldn't take any silly risks in terms of getting obsessed with Saturday.

''If he can get through the reserve game tonight and has an hour, we will see how it goes. But at this moment in time he is not involved.''

Jones has been out of action since June 1, when he suffered his injury on international duty in a collision with England goalkeeper David James.

The £6million former Southampton striker was the club's leading scorer last season, and such was his influence during his first top-flight campaign with the Black Cats that Keane valued him at £40million.

The mere presence of his name on the team sheet for Saturday's game would represent a huge boost to the manager, his team-mates and Sunderland's fans, who have not sampled a home victory over their fierce rivals since April 1980.

It would be good news too for the man himself, who admitted the initial prognosis was nowhere near as promising.

Jones told the Sunderland Echo: ''Originally there was a possibility that I would be out until March and I had already mentally prepared myself for that. But thank God, some good news came along and I am here now.

''It's hard work after an injury like this. You have to learn to walk properly again and then to run properly. It's almost like being born again.

''When you are out for so long, your muscles almost forget how to do those things. It's been a long road.''

While Keane would dearly love to have his star striker available for the first time to link up with loan signing Djibril Cisse, he is taking a long-term view.

He said: ''If people think playing an hour in a reserve match after being out for three or four months warrants a starting place in a derby match, they are sadly mistaken.

''If he gets through it and there is no reaction, with having six or seven subs, we would have a look at it. But it's important that we look at Kenwyne with the bigger picture, not just for this weekend.''

Defender Nyron Nosworthy, who has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, was not included in the reserve team squad, but is in contention for the Newcastle game.

Keane added: ''Nyron is fit. He has trained, but he doesn't need a reserve game.

''He has been out for two and a half, three weeks, but he has played a lot of football, even in pre-season. He will be available.''


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