JOHN O’Shea is set to miss Sunderland’s pre-season friendlies against Burnley and Hartlepool United.
But Steve Bruce expects the former Manchester United ace to be ready for the opening day game against Liverpool on August 13.
The Irishman, arguably Sunderland’s most significant signing of the summer, has barely featured for the Black Cats so far.
He returned home from the club’s pre-season tour of Germany as a precaution after suffering a hamstring niggle and will not be risked in the games against the Clarets tomorrow or Pools on Tuesday.
But Bruce insists the big defender will be ready for the start of the season.
He told SportMail: “I’ve got no worries about John.
“He wasn’t involved against Kilmarnock and I’m not looking at risking him in our next two friendlies – it’s a case of erring on the right side caution.
“But he should be able to play in our last pre-season game, against Hibs a week on Saturday and if he comes through that he’ll come into contention for Liverpool.”
SEE Friday’s Mail for full story and interview with Keiren Westwood.