WES Brown and Ji Dong-won failed to make the trip to Sunderland’s last pre-season game against Midtjylland last night after picking up injuries.
But head coach Paolo Di Canio was quick to reassure fans after the 1-0 success against the Danish Superliga leaders that he did not expect any serious problems with either player.
Centre-back Brown has been a revelation this summer since returning to full fitness and was one of Sunderland’s best performers in the recent Asia Trophy.
Korean striker Ji, meanwhile, looked certain to be leaving the Stadium of Light this summer after attracting the interest of several Bundesliga clubs rumoured to be preparing big offers only for impressive work in pre-season training to catch the eye of Di Canio and suggest he has a future on Wearside.
Both would have loved to have been involved in last night’s final pre-season friendly to underline their potential claims on a first-team place.
But with neither travelling, there was always likely to be heavy speculation – particularly given Brown’s poor injury record since moving to the North East.
But Di Canio told the Echo: “Wes had a little problem and we decided not to risk him on the day.
“He has had a very good pre-season, which was a surprise for everyone, even him.
“We didn’t want to risk him because he’s an important player now.
“On the day of the game he was running again.
“And today he can train harder because I want him to be available as soon as possible.
“It’s good for us that we have a player of his ability in our squad and it is important to us that we have him able to play for us next season.
“As for Ji, he has been out for a few days, but we expect him to be back in training in the next few days.
“So, at this moment in time, we do not have any real worries about either of them.”