Sam Allardyce is pleased with the progress being made behind the scenes to treat and prevent player injuries, as the list of absentees continues to shorten.
Speaking during his pre-Sunderland press conference, Allardyce revealed that there are no fresh injury concerns among the squad who won at Bournemouth on Tuesday evening, but that Bakary Sako had returned from international duty with a hamstring complaint.
"All the players that were on the field are fine and I think we've gained a bit of confidence from our result, so hopefully we can apply that sort of level of performance again on Saturday against Sunderland. So no injury worries, which is good news for us," he said.
Jeffrey Schlupp, who had limped off with a hamstring problem against Manchester City last weekend and missed the win at Bournemouth a few days later, won't be featuring against the Black Cats, but should return for the trip to Stoke City on February 11th.
"He won't be fit for this weekend, but he'll be fit for Stoke City," Sam said. "Baky Sako's come back from the Africa Cup of Nations with a hamstring [injury], so we don't know how long that's going to be yet. From that point of view we're not too bad with injuries, they've improved dramatically over the last few weeks.
"I think a lot of it is down to readdressing our recovery periods and of course our treatment and our cryotherapy unit which helps us to recover better - and therefore leads to fewer injuries, we think. Hopefully the squad stays fit and that gives me good selection options."
Steve Mandanda is one of the long-term absentees closing in on a return, with Connor Wickham, Pape Souare and Jonathan Benteke still some way off, but Allardyce was against putting a time frame on the goalkeeper's recovery.
"I think he's training with Martyn Margetson at the moment. He's been one of our long-term injuries, so I don't know exactly when he's going to be fit to play again, but we'll try to fit him in to an under-23 game as soon as possible," he said.
Watch the full press conference for free HERE