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'Exciting' Sunderland January signing unable to make debut against Fulham

By Michael Graham,


What is the latest on Isaac Lihadji's availability ahead of the FA Cup tie against Fulham?

Sunderland will again be without January signing Isaac Lihadji for the FA Cup replay against Fulham, although his work permit has now been finalised.

That does at least mean he will be in contention for the Championship clash with Reading this weekend, although fans will not be able to get a look at him against Fulham due to competition rules.

Lihadji had signed for Sunderland in time for the first game, although he was still not eligible to play due to awaiting his work permit.

In the FA Cup, only the players eligible for the original tie can play in the replay, with the exception of those who have served a suspension.

That means Lihadji will have to sit it out again, although Luke O’Nien can return after missing their first game due to a ban.

The rule is in section 15 and states: “All players must have been eligible to play in the original tie in order to play in a match which is replayed, postponed or ordered to be replayed.

“However a player who has been suspended according to the disciplinary procedures under the Rules of The Association may play in a match which is replayed.”

Lihadji arrives from Lille with a big reputation, although he has lost his way in the last 18 months or so.

Boss Tony Mowbray, though, is convinced Sunderland have a real talent on their hands and he will be worth the wait.

"I'm watching Isaac [Lihadji] in training and he's going to excite the fans," Mowbray said last week. "He's so fast from a standing start and just goes past people.

"Having been in football so long, I feel the future looks really bright for this football club as long as we keep these young players happy and believing in themselves, because they have wonderful attributes.”

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