SUNDERLAND star man Aiden McGeady CAN start against Lincoln after resolving a potentially embarrassing contract stand-off.
Looking to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit in the League One play-off semi-final, the winger’s involvement was in doubt as one more start would trigger an automatic 12-month extension.
With McGeady, 35, the club’s highest earner, the Black Cats were reluctant to activate it, given the uncertainty over what division they will be in next season.
But Lee Johnson suggested the former Everton and Republic of Ireland international, who 14 assists this campaign, has waived his right to the extension.
The Sunderland boss said: “He won’t be triggering another 12 months by starting.
“All I will say is that McGeady has been top throughout my tenure. He understands the situation and proved his class yet again.
“It just cements both him being a quality human and a quality professional, that I’ve got the option to pick him.”
The Wearsiders were well off the pace at Sincil Bank and will need top-scorer Charlie Wyke at his best if they are to reach Wembley.
The striker has 25 goals this season but made no impact feeding off scraps.
But Johnson said it is not just down to a lack of service, ordering Wyke to up his game.
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He added: “Charlie has got to get aggressive.
“I need to see him back at it in terms of his sprints, hustling and bustling.
“And can he influence his teammate to deliver the cross at the right time?
“At times the quality of delivery was nowhere near good enough (on Wednesday).
“But it’s a new game and we’ve got to believe they can bring their best.
“We’re still in it and we’re going into it with no fear because we’re the underdog – probably for the first time all season.”
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While there were 3,145 supporters at Lincoln, Sunderland will be roared on by 10,000 at the Stadium of Light.
And Johnson said: “I know they’ll be rested and I hope they’re going through the vocal range and making sure their voice is in full song and really powerful for the boys.
“They should never underestimate and we should never underestimate what that brings – when it’s positive and aggressive, it’s worth a goal.”
If a fourth season in League One beckons, Johnson – who arrived on a two-and-a-half year deal last December – is confident he will be given the chance to make amends.
The former Bristol City manager added: “I’ll always respond and react like I am going to be here forever, knowing that through success or failure you could be gone tomorrow.
“I’m very comfortable being here and being able to bed my football roots into the club and trying to bring it forward.”
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