Harrogate Town expect that Sunderland AFC's Jack Diamond will indeed return before end of January
The on-loan Sunderland winger was recalled from his season-long stay at Wetherby Road by the Black Cats on Friday due to a Covid-19 outbreak at the Stadium of Light.
Already contending with a number of injuries, the Wearsiders feared that they would not have enough players available to fulfil Saturday’s League One fixture at Wycombe and thus opted to bring back Diamond, plus fellow loanees Josh Hawkes (Tranmere) and Anthony Patterson (Notts County) to bolster their ranks.
But the Football League (EFL) has given the green light for all three players to head back to the clubs where they have been on loan this term once Lee Johnson’s selection problems ease.
And Harrogate assistant manager Paul Thirlwell has told the Harrogate Advertiser that he is confident that six-goal Diamond will indeed return.
“It's a blow to lose Jack, he's been doing so well for us, but hopefully, all being well, he's going to be coming back before the end of the month," the ex-Sunderland midfielder said.
"I can't say that it will happen 100 per cent because Jack is a Sunderland player. The decision is not ours to make, so I can't guarantee it, but we've been in constant dialogue with them and I expect that he will return - that is the plan.
"He's been getting plenty of minutes here and he's developing. I know that they don't want a situation where he ends up staying there and not playing games.
"It might be that he has to stay there for a week or a couple of weeks, I don't know the extent of their Covid issues. But, Jack being here has been working well for all parties, so we look forward to him being able to come back to us."
Diamond was introduced as a late substitute as Sunderland drew 3-3 with Wycombe on Saturday, but will doubtless prove a big miss for Town as they aim to upset Championship opposition in their FA Cup third-round showdown at Luton.
"Naturally we are disappointed not to have Jack, but we fully appreciate the situation," Thirlwell added.
“Jack is Sunderland’s player and they are contending with injuries and Covid-19 and they didn’t want to have to cancel their game this weekend.
“They have been completely transparent about this situation, they’ve been in constant dialogue. They’ve been in touch every day and we are grateful for that and the fantastic relationship we have with them.”
Diamond's exit, plus injuries to Aaron Martin and Simon Power, Mark Beck being cup-tied and doubts over the fitness of Will Smith, Warren Burrell, Ryan Fallowfield and Alex Pattison look set to leave Harrogate thin on the ground for Sunday lunchtime's fixture, however Thirlwell insists that the Sulphurites will manage.
“We’ll be fine in terms of numbers. I’m not sure we’ll be able to fill the bench, but we will be okay," he continued.
“Wazza [Burrell] and Ryan both trained [on Friday], they both came through the session so we’ll see how they are.”
Kick-off at Kenilworth Road on Sunday is at 12.30pm.