Kevin Phillips has claimed it would be a “huge boost” for Sunderland if Dion Sanderson returns for the play-offs next month.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the Stadium of Light legend heaped praise on the 21-year-old who has been “amazing” for Lee Johnson’s side since joining on loan from Wolves last October.
Sanderson has missed the Black Cats’ last three fixtures with a back injury, having started the previous 15 league games at the heart of the defence.
As quoted by the Chronicle, Johnson revealed that the centre-half has returned to his parent club for further scans on the problem after “really positive” talks.
Phillips claimed Sanderson’s return would be a timely mental boost for the squad as they edge closer to the League One play-offs.
“Sanderson has been an amazing player for them this season in the heart of the defence,” he told Football Insider.
“If he was back for the play-offs it would be a huge boost for Sunderland and for the player himself.
“He will be gutted watching Sunderland struggling at the moment. You can see that the defence is not the same without him.
“If they can get him back for the play-offs it would be a big boost. They are going to go into the play-offs a little disappointed because three or four weeks ago they were looked like they were nailed on to go up automatically.
“Mentally, to have him come back would be a big boost for everyone.”