Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce hopeful Lee Cattermole has seen back of problem
Sunderland hope a visit to renowned German specialist Dr Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt will help keep captain Lee Cattermole fit for their battle against relegation.
The midfielder limped out of the Barclays Premier League match at Everton at the start of November with a suspected groin or back problem.
Following further investigations over the international break, which saw Cattermole travel to visit Dr Muller-Wohlfahrt, who has helped the likes of Michael Owen and Jonathan Woodgate in the past, it transpires the issue is nerve related.
Cattermole missed the home defeat by Southampton, but has since been able to resume full training this week and is expected back in contention for Monday night's trip to Crystal Palace.
"Lee is alright and he is available. He has had enough treatment and been to see a specialist in Germany who has made him feel a little bit better, Muller-Wohlfahrt ... the master," Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce said at Friday's press conference
"With the specialist here and Hans, he has recovered and the good thing that came out of the international break is that he hasn't really missed a game.
"Hans is accomplished at what he does. It is not a normal way of treatment and sometimes it can be a bit quirky but it gives players so much confidence when they meet him. He has got him fit.
"It has now been relieved and hopefully it is gone for a good deal of time now.
"The problem was a nerve pressing against the disc in his lower back."
Allardyce reported no fresh injury concerns from players returning after international duty.
Defender John O'Shea, who had been nursing a hamstring problem, is expected to feature in the Sunderland squad having made a late substitute appearance for the Republic of Ireland in their play-off second leg against Bosnia in Dublin on Monday night.
Allardyce knows his squad face a battle to drag themselves out of the relegation zone as Sunderland aim to avoid what would be a third straight league defeat.
Sunderland are second bottom, with only one league win all season, which came in Allardyce's second match in charge against rivals Newcastle, one of his former clubs.
The Black Cats could, though, prop up the table by the time they run out at Selhurst Park should Aston Villa get a result at Everton on Saturday.
Allardyce said: " I am still learning about the players and expected to have got more out of the games with the performances we gave, but we have to cut out the individual errors and the sooner we do that, then the sooner we will put points on the board.
"We are all in it together and have to stick together now, enjoy our training, not feel sorry for ourselves to get on with the job and get better every week."
Sunderland Under-21 midfielder Martin Smith has joined Vanarama Conference side Gateshead on loan until January 2.