Sunderland midfielder Julio Arca is making a desperate bid to be fit for Sunderland's final game of the season against Derby County next Saturday.
The Argentinian ace, who made a fantastic impact when joining the club from Argentinos Juniors last season, has been out of action since February with a troublesome groin injury. Recently he has been back in his homeland for intensive treatment on the problem.
|Arca: On comeback trail|
The 21-year-old returned to full training on Monday and now hopes to feature against the Rams in a game which Sunderland must at least draw in order to guarantee their Premiership place for next season.
'It has been frustrating for me, but I haven't given up hope of playing,' he told the club's official website. 'I will return to Sunderland and see what happens. Hopefully the injury will be fine.'
Brazilian defender Emerson Thome is a better bet to make the finale after recovering from a knee injury. The former Sheffield Wednesday and Chelsea player has not figured since New Year's Day and has twice undergone surgery this season.
But after a long haul back to full health and two reserve team games, the £4.5million joint record signing is now ready to fight for his place.
Goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen, meanwhile, is determined to give the club's
disillusioned fans a rousing final day send-off - and fresh hope for next season.
No-one at the club is pretending that this season, which began with European
qualification a genuine hope, has been anything but a massive disappointment.
Boss Peter Reid has been under intense pressure for months but refuses to be bowed by the task which lies ahead, but the only future which currently concerns him is that 90 minutes on May 11.
'We know what we need to do,' said Sorensen. 'We must go out in a positive
frame of mind and look for the win. Then we can take stock and look forward to
'We owe the fans a big result against Derby. It hasn't been a good season and
the supporters have not had much to cheer about. Ipswich's result against Manchester United was a relief because it could have been out of our hands had they won. Now we must finish the job.
'We can't rely on what Liverpool or Ipswich need to do,' he told the club's
official website. 'We must do the job ourselves.'