KENWYNE JONES will lead the Sunderland line at Chelsea later today, with manager Roy Keane admitting his powerhouse striker has had to make a premature return because of his impressive condition.
But after emerging as a half-time substitute at Stoke City on Wednesday night, the 24-year-old’s performance left Keane conceding the former Southampton man will have to start at Stamford Bridge.
It remains to be seen in what way Jones will be accommodated, although given the task Sunderland are faced with at Chelsea there is every chance he will be up front on his own.
“He is making it bloody hard for me,” said Keane, who was quick to admit that a number of his players will lose their place today. “In an ideal world I would like to have been a bit more patient with him and said ‘have a few more games in the reserves’.
“He’s got a good chance of starting. When he came on at Stoke his body language was good. He was quite demanding, quite annoyed in the dressing room and he showed a good side to him. Good players don’t give you the option of leaving them out.
“He produced miracles last year for us with poor service.
He can cause very good teams problems. We had two shots on target at Stoke, one was Kenwyne’s.”
Another likely inclusion in the Sunderland team is Pascal Chimbonda after Keane denied suggestions the Frenchman was dropped at Stoke for poor time-keeping.
Chimbonda, replaced by Phil Bardsley at Stoke, was infamously left out of the side that won at Tottenham in August after allegedly turning up late for a team get-together.
But, this time, Keane was quick to dismiss the theories the right-back was becoming a serial offender and instead outlined a worry the former Wigan defender has with his knee.
“When we signed Pascal his medical said he had problems playing three games in a week,” said the Sunderland boss. “It seems to happen every time I leave players out.
We had the incident last year when allegedly three players were in a nightclub. It’s nonsense.
When I have left him out, we have missed him.
There has not been a problem.
“It’s unfair and it does annoy me when players are left out and these things are said. If they are out of order, we discipline and I’m quite happy to let people know.
“When we signed Pascal we had to discuss it at board level and with the medical people because we knew he might struggle to play three games in a week. However, we won’t play three times a week often because we aren’t in Europe.
“I don’t know the ins and outs of his medical but he had a previous knee injury. I’m sure if he’d have played the other night he could have played Saturday but we thought Phil Bardsley had trained that well he deserved to play for us.”
Andy Cole has had his Nottingham Forest contract cancelled by mutual consent.