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Vito Mannone is ahead of schedule in his recovery from elbow surgery.
The Italian was ruled out for three months after he was found to have damaged elbow ligaments during training in late August.
Surgery was required but the 28-year-old is making good progress and is targeting a return to the first-team in the coming weeks.
“I’m already ahead of schedule and it’s not as bad as we expected at the beginning. I’m feeling really strong and I’m starting to go out and put more strength on my arm.
“Hopefully this will increase by each day and by the time I’ve got more power – we’re only going on the reaction of the arm, hopefully it is positive – I can be out there to help my team.
“It’s the luckiest injury you can get because as soon as I’d had my operation the surgeon told me to work on my flexibility, strength and power. I’m possibly at the stage where I’ve got the best outcome I could so far which is very positive, and hopefully I can step it up in the next few weeks.”
Sunderland are without a win in the Premier League and currently sit bottom of the table ahead of the trip to Stoke at the weekend.
It has been a frustrating start to the season for the club but Mannone is confident their work in training will transfer to the pitch.
“We understand the frustration of the fans and when I’m sitting next to them it’s easier to understand, but all I can say is that there’s been a lot of work in the training pitch and the manager has been trying to help the team get the results," he explained.
“We will pull our sleeves up and work, and hopefully the win will come.”
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