Sunderland boss Lee Johnson has said defender Jordan Willis is “doing well” in his recovery, but insisted he is still a “long, long way away” from making a return.

After suffering a ruptured tendon in his knee against Shrewsbury Town back in February, Sunderland defender Jordan Willis has been sidelined ever since.

A further blow came during surgery, when his tendon snapped again, leading to another operation. The blow means Willis is facing a longer spell on the sidelines, but Black Cats boss Lee Johnson has provided an encouraging update on his road back to fitness.

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As quoted by the Sunderland Echo, Johnson confirmed that the former Coventry City defender is still “a long, long way away” from making his return to action.

However, the club are taking his recovery step by step and drawing the positives from the situation when they can.

Here’s what Johnson had to say on the matter:

“First and foremost we have to give huge credit to Jordan, who has been amazing in the process.

“The starting point is that he’s had a really good frame of mind. He probably knew even before he got injured that there was an issue there, and we then had a bit of a failed operation in one sense.

“They were trying to first get rid of the infection and then from the second point of view to try and get some movement in the knee.

“It [tendon] actually snapped again in that operation. It sounds horrendous, if I’m honest. That meant another operation but he’s now doing really well.

“He’s doing well in both the mobility he’s got and the strength, because a lot of the muscle around it you lose. He has to take a lot of credit.

“He’s a long, long way away but ever block that we tick is another step forward for him.”

In his absence…

With Willis still set for a longer spell on the sidelines, the Black Cats moved to bolster their centre-back options with some new signings in the summer transfer window.

Callum Doyle and Frederik Alves both arrived on loan from Premier League sides Manchester City and West Ham United respectively.

Injury problems saw Luke O’Nien fill in as a makeshift centre-back towards the tail end of last season, but the summer reinforcements have allowed him to move back to his usual position.