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Lens suffers tragedy & swap deal mooted; Kirchhoff's return & Moyes on Pickford's future

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In this evening's news update: Jan Kirchhoff is in line for a return to competitive football with a run out for the Under-23s tonight; Jeremain Lens, fresh from personal tragedy, is subject to some intriguing transfer rumours; David Moyes comments on Jordan Pickford's future & spare a thought for Fabio Borini?

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Sunderland v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Jan Kirchhoff - Comeback starts tonight

Sunderland midfielder, Jan Kirchhoff, is in line for a first competitive return to action tonight as the Under-23s face Manchester United.

The German has been missing since mid-December with ligament damage in what has proved to be a stop-start second campaign on Wearside for him.

Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League
Kirchhoff KO'd, a familiar site this season
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Kirchhoff missed the start of the season with a hamstring problem, and looked rusty on his return during a run of four games before breaking down with his most recent knee injury.

David Moyes suggested the 26-year-old is one of a number of players he's hoping to get back into the squad once the Premier League run-in becomes fast and furious in April.

In his press conference on Friday the Sunderland boss confirmed Kirchhoff will likely get a run-out in the Premier League 2 fixture at Hetton tonight, with yesterday's match against Manchester City coming just a bit too soon in his return to fitness.


Swap deal for Lens?

Sunderland midfielder Jeremain Lens has been granted leave of absence from Fenerbahçe to mourn the death of his father. The 29-year-old is on a season-long loan spell in Turkey and returned to Surinam at the weekend - the former Dutch colony in South America where he was raised - to be with his family.

Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Meanwhile, several reports in Turkey have claimed Fenerbahçe's rivals Besiktas have made contact with Sunderland with a view to signing Lens in the summer. Some outlets have even claimed that a preliminary meeting has been held between the two clubs.

There has been suggestion in recent weeks that Fenerbahçe are unlikely to be able to afford the £8m asking price that Sunderland will demand for the Dutch winger to make the move a permanent one. The option-to-buy clause in Lens' loan deal will supposedly expire on May 31st and Besiktas are thought to be in a superior financial position to their Istanbul rivals.

Further, reports elsewhere have suggested that Besiktas have offered German midfielder Tolgay Arslan to Sunderland in a swap deal for Lens. The 26-year-old former Under-21 international was also linked with a move to the Stadium of Light in the January transfer window.

SSC Napoli v Besiktas JK - UEFA Champions League
Tolgay Arslan playing for Besiktas in October 2016 (centre)
Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

Is there anyone who doesn't want Jordan Pickford in the summer?

The top seven clubs in the Premier League have now all been linked with Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in recent weeks.

Reports today have included Liverpool as joining their top six rivals - Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United - in monitoring Pickford's situation. And we can add Everton to that list who have increased financial clout with new money washing around them from part-owner and investor Farhad Moshiri.

Sunderland v Manchester City - Premier League
Jordan Pickford during the Premier League match between Sunderland and Manchester City on Sunday.
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The appeal is obvious. Pickford has proven himself as a Premier League player this season and broken through to the fringes of the England senior set-up; and at the age of just 22, any buyer would be investing in a decade-plus stint from a potentially world-class goalkeeper.

But would the Washington-born Sunderland supporting lad not be better served continuing his development at the club he joined as an eight-year-old? Well, perhaps.

And David Moyes has suggested he has hinted that to the young 'keeper already. The Sunderland boss was quoted in the Telegraph over the weekend as arguing the case for Pickford's growth at the club at which he gets plenty of shot-stopping practice:

I think the best thing for Jordan is for him to continue his progress at Sunderland. He has shown you can get in the England team playing for a club like Sunderland, because as a goalkeeper, you’re going to get worked and he is playing every week.

The Luke Edwards-written piece also claims that club sources have indicated that Sunderland fully anticipate a bid from Manchester City in the summer with the Etihad billionaires eyeing up their target at close quarters yesterday.

Sadly with relegation looking ever more likely, the prospect of Sunderland keeping hold of Jordan Pickford at the end of the season is receding by the week.


Poor Fabio

Poor Fabio Borini, all he wants to do is score goals and be a number nine. But that nasty David Moyes - and every other Sunderland manager he's played for - just won't let him.

Sunderland v Liverpool - Premier League
"I just want to score one, please"
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

At least that's what you would think if you were an Italian follower of the former Liverpool and Roma player judging by this type of headline which has appeared in his native country over the weekend:

Sunderland, Borini : "I need to score and play"

He returned in December after missing 4 months through injury, the Italian striker has found the net on one occasion and gets angry with his position on the pitch. Moyes prefers as a central striker Defoe and uses Borini as a second striker or wide roles where Borini feels he can not give his best.

Faced with a partially open goal and a chance to do just that yesterday, Borini failed to capitalise of course as he made a mess of his header from a rebounding Jermain Defoe shot off the Manchester City woodwork.

You can meet Fabio on Wednesday as the Italian forward will be at the Stadium of Light club store signing autographs and meeting fans. The appearance takes place from 3.30pm where supporters will be able to marvel at Borini's amazing toblerone head - the one that should have scored a goal yesterday.