Sunderland boss Simon Grayson may choose to play Darron Gibson against Derby County tonight despite the midfielder being involvedin an internal disciplinary process.

The Black Cats open their Sky Bet Championship campaign at home to Derby County after being relegated from the Barclays Premier League last term, but the Black Cats’ boss Simon Grayson may elect to play Gibson despite his recent outburst.

The former Manchester United and Everton midfielder branded his club a “f***king s***” following their 5-0 pre-season defeat to Celtic, while he also highlighted team-mates Lamine Kone, Jeremain Lens and Wahbi Khazri for a lack of effort.

Despite being involved in an ongoing internal disciplinary investigation, Gibson may appear alongside Sunderland’s seven summer signings including goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter who signed on Wednesday.

Tom Huddlestone, Curtis Davies and Andre Wisdom are all expected to start for Derby County after the trio of players completed summer moves to the Pride Park Stadium, whereas Darren Bent, George Thorne and Jason Shackell are ruled out through injury.

Speaking ahead of the opening fixture, Grayson said: “We all want a positive start, but Fulham beat Newcastle first game of last season and Newcastle were promoted. At Preston [his former club]we lost our first six and were around the play-offs at the end of the season.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to get off to a good start.”

Meanwhile, Derby boss Gary Rowett reiterated his side’s target for the season.

“Our target is promotion. It has to be for a team like Derby County but we also have to be mindful that there will be a lot of teams in this division whose target is also promotion.” he said.

“Pre-season can drag on because we are all desperate to kick off and see how we get on. We are really excited and looking forward to the first game.”

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