Dennis Cirkin faces a race against time to feature again for Sunderland this season after interim head coach Mike Dodds revealed the full-back remains 'a couple of weeks' away from being in contention as we head into the final month of the Championship campaign. 

Sunderland's injury crisis eased somewhat over the international break with Dodds able to call upon the likes of Bradley Dack, Aji Alese and Patrick Roberts to include in his squad for the trip to Cardiff City on Good Friday, but Cirkin remains a number of weeks away from being back in contention as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury which has kept him sidelined since November. 

The former Tottenham Hotspur man last featured in the 3-1 win over Birmingham City at the Stadium of Light before suffering a hamstring injury that required the 21-year-old to have surgery, something the club confirmed in January after Cirkin expressed his unease with the problem during a training session. 


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Cirkin joined Sunderland in the summer of 2021 and has been key in the club’s rise over that time back into the Championship and contributing towards a play-off campaign last season before being limited to just eight appearances this year. Cirkin’s impact last season led to the defender being handed a new three-year contract in the summer which will keep him on Wearside until 2026 .

The initial prognosis for Cirkin's injury was 12-weeks - a milestone he will hit this week following Easter Monday's meeting with Blackburn Rovers. That will leave just four weeks of the season remaining and just six games for the former England youth international to make a return.

"Dennis is probably a couple of weeks away, which would be a huge boost," said Dodds.

"We forget about Dennis – a fully fit Dennis Cirkin, there wouldn’t be many better left-backs in the league."




Cirkin addressed supporters with a social media update back in January following news of his surgery, revealing it had been a success, with this setback only making the full-back more determined to come back and continue proving his worth on Wearside.

“As much hard work and focus I have put into getting back with the team, it has not worked, hence why I took the advice of surgery. It was successful and I just wanted to say thank you to those that have stuck by my side through all of it, as well as those that are helping me get back to my best.

“Having something you love get snatched away from your every day life isn’t a nice feeling, but being in this position only makes me more grateful for where I am and determined for more success no matter what hardship comes with it."

We Are Sunderland: Dennis Cirkin's last game for Sunderland came in November's 3-1 win over Birmingham City at the Stadium of LightDennis Cirkin's last game for Sunderland came in November's 3-1 win over Birmingham City at the Stadium of Light (Image: Ian Horrocks)

Cirkin will be hoping he can meet Dodds' suggestions of being a couple of weeks away from fitness in order to feature in Sunderland's closing games of the season, with Millwall and Sheffield Wednesday to visit the Stadium of Light in the final fortnight of the campaign. 

But the news might not be as positive for midfielder Elliot Embleton, who Dodds conceded may not return this season following a difficult year with injuries.

"With Elliot, it might be touch and go as to whether we see him this season," he said. "He's just been really unfortunate. I would say it is probably more unlikely at this moment. We'll see."

We Are Sunderland: Elliot Embleton may not return for Sunderland this seasonElliot Embleton may not return for Sunderland this season (Image: Ian Horrocks)

Embleton suffered a serious ankle injury in a Championship fixture with Hull City in December 2022 which curtailed his season before seeing a loan move to Derby County this year cut short after picking up a significant thigh problem which saw him return to the Academy of Light as another who required surgery. 

Embleton had been slated to make a return for Sunderland's under-21s side in February, in a fixture with Leicester City, before rolling his ankle in training which has led to a further setback now leaving his return this season unlikely.