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Defenders Neill Collins and Dan Smith have returned from their loans at Sheffield United and Huddersfield respectively. Collins' loan was due to expire at the end of this week but has decided to return to Wearside earlier following the departure of Mick McCarthy.

Black Cats caretaker manager Kevin Ball told the club website, 'Neill spoke to Neil Warnock last week and found out that he wasn't going to be involved in their game last weekend.

'Because his loan was up at the end of the week, he asked whether he could come back early.

'Sheffield United agreed to that and so Neill has been training with us all week. His loan officially ends on Friday.'

Collins will be hoping to impress Ball enough to win a place in the squad that travels to Bolton. As will returning left back Dan Smith. The 19-year old has made 8 appearances for the Terriers since joining them on loan last month.

Terriers boss Peter Jackson told the Huddersfield Examiner: 'Dan has done well with us and, hopefully, he can now break into the Sunderland team for a good spell.

'While there had been rumours among the media, Kevin Ball didn't contact me until last night to say he wanted to take Dan back to the Stadium of Light.'

Ball has already stated all places are up for grabs and it remains to be seen whether the caretaker boss feels Smith has what it takes to claim the left back spot from George McCartney.

His recall could also be linked with left midfielder Julio Arca's battle with injury. The Argentinian limped out of last weekend's defeat by Wigan at half time with a tight hamstring and remains a major doubt for the trip to the Reebok Stadium.

With the odds stacked against Arca making the game against Sam Allardyce's men there were fears Arca's season, and perhaps therefore his Sunderland career, could be over.

However boss Kevin Ball was quick to point out that the injury is not too serious and that the player still has an outside chance of being involved this weekend.

He said: 'We'll find out later on in the week if Julio has any chance of playing in the Bolton game.

'At this stage, I wouldn't like to say either way that he's out or he's in, but it's not a hamstring tear or rip and it's not long-term. It's a case of how well he heals in the next couple of days but, at this moment, he's doubtful.'

While Arca's absence will of course be a loss for Ball, he is not prepared to take any risks with his star man, 'If you have a hamstring tightness and it worsens into a rupture, you could be out for six to eight weeks and obviously that's something we intend to avoid.

'Bringing him off quickly against Wigan was part of that plan and if he's not completely right for the weekend, he won't be risked.'

Meanwhile, Rory Delap has insisted that he does not regret his move to Wearside despite Sunderland's impending relegation.

'People might think I'm a glutton for punishment because I've had two successive years of struggling against relegation,' the midfielder told the official website.

McCarthy's final signing as Sunderland manager continued, 'But while I knew there was a chance Sunderland would be relegated when I joined, I looked beyond their league position.

'It's a bigger club than Southampton and it's a better club in terms of the squad. If it did come to relegation I knew we'd be better prepared for the Championship than Southampton are.

'I'm still really pleased I made the move despite what has happened. It was a chance for me to move the family back up north and that was important. People sometimes forget footballers have a personal life to consider as well.'


Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:
Date:Wednesday March 15 2006
Time: 6:15PM

Comments

0
Things are not good when your most dedicated player is out injured. He should be known as ARCA DE TRIOMPHE.
pompeygray
20/03/2006 11:35:00
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