Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Elliott Tipped for a Return

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Elliott Tipped for a Return

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

Mick McCarthy has backed Stephen Elliott to return from his recent break refreshed, rested and primed to score the goals which will seal Sunderland's place in the Premiership next season.

Although the Irishman has been on the mark 15 times in his first full year of senior football, Elliott has tasted less than half-an-hour of action since February 5 and has started the Black Cats' last three games on the substitutes' bench.

The 21-year-old's restricted role has been a deliberate ploy on McCarthy's part, with the Stadium of Light's canny manager well aware of the demands heaped on a player who arrived on Wearside last summer with just minutes of first-team experience to his name.

That Sunderland head the Coca-Cola Championship table by five points suggests the gamble has worked. And with the goal-hungry Elliott determined to regain his place for tomorrow's pivotal promotion encounter with Leicester, the Sunderland boss is confident the striker will make a major impact on his eventual return.

"I think the rest will have done him good," said McCarthy of a player who, having been expected to continue his education in the Black Cats reserves following his transfer from Manchester City, has started 29 league games during a campaign which promises to restore the club's top-flight status following a two-year absence. "He has played a lot of football given what he was used to as a reserve-team player at Manchester City and I think he needed that break ( he certainly looked fresh and sharp at Ipswich (Elliott was a scoring substitute at Portman Road on Sunday).

"I haven't had the discussion with him but I would doubt whether he would admit to having found it tough this season. But when you have been playing in the reserves, you are used to playing far less games than we do in the Championship. …

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