Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Kirchhoff Kicks off Comeback; Defender Jan Targets Burnley Game for Return to Kick-Start the Black Cats' Fightback

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Kirchhoff Kicks off Comeback; Defender Jan Targets Burnley Game for Return to Kick-Start the Black Cats' Fightback

Article excerpt

Byline: James Hunter Sports Writer james.hunter@ncjmedia.co.uk

JAN Kirchhoff hopes his injury nightmare is finally at an end after he made his comeback on Monday night following three months out of action.

The German midfielder went under the knife for a knee cartilage problem in December, but has been back in training for two and a half weeks and played just over an hour for Sunderland U23s in their 3-1 defeat against Manchester United at Eppleton. Kirchhoff has targeted the Premier League game against Burnley at the Stadium of Light a week on Saturday for a possible return to the first-team squad and, before then, he could be involved for the U23s again on Sunday against Leicester City.

But he was delighted to be back playing after almost three months on the sidelines.

"For me, it was a good training session to be out there and have some game practice and get some minutes under my belt - that's what I need now," said Kirchhoff following his run-out against the Red Devils.

"It's mainly about fitness, but it is always different to be on the pitch Turn to Page 48 FROM BACK PAGE playing a game and trying to win a football match, rather than just training.

"The main thing for us was to win this game and we didn't do that, so we are quite disappointed.

"For me though, it is a positive to have got these minutes and try to build my fitness.

"We have a weekend off because Middlesbrough are playing in the cup, so it is a chance to have a good week training and then start on Monday and keep going throughout the week to work on my fitness."

Kirchhoff's campaign has been badly disrupted by a series of injuries dating all the way back to preseason, and he has drawn parallels between his personal frustrations and those of the team in its struggle against relegation. He said: "It has been very frustrating. …

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