Date: 21st February 2006 at 11:09pm
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Striker Stephen Elliot may be back in the Sunderland side this weekend as Andy Gray looks set to complete a loan move to Derby.

Elliot is pencilled in to play his first game since November 5th for the reserves against Aston Villa tomorrow night, after recovering from a stress fracture of his back. Should he come through unscathed manager Mick McCarthy may well be tempted to include the pacy striker in his squad to travel to fellow strugglers Birmingham.

New signing Rory Delap is also expected to get a run-out against Villa having recovered from the achilles injury that has prevented the utility man from making his Black Cats debut since signing last month.

Meanwhile, as reported yesterday, £1million Premiership flop Andy Gray is set to move to Derby County on loan until the end of the season. With Elliot’s imminent return the former Sheffield United striker moves further down the pecking order and is deemed as surplus to McCarthy’s requirements, for the remainder of this season at least. It remains to be seen whether McCarthy plans to keep the striker for next season’s inevitable Championship campaign.

While seemingly unwanted on Wearside, he will be welcomed by Rams caretaker boss Terry Westley, who sees Gray as an ideal choice to solve his striker shortage.

‘Andy is proven at Championship level’, Westley told the Shield’s Gazette.

‘You have to be careful not to panic with loan signings. They have to make an impact and we think Andy Gray would.’

Gray is currently on the treatment table with an achilles injury but should recover soon enough in order to join the struggling Championship side.

 

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