Sunderland goalkeeper Darren Ward is confident they'll get stronger and stronger as their injury-list clears.

The Black Cats have had key players missing for almost the entire season with skipper Dean Whitehead, wingers Carlos Edwards and Kieran Richardson, and frontman Andy Cole all in the treatment room.

But as their crocks begin to return, Ward told the Sunday Sun: "We had a tough start really and, without wanting to look for excuses, we have been through the mill a little bit in terms of injuries.

"We've been missing some key players in terms of Carlos, Dean, Andy and Kieran and that hasn't helped us one bit.

"But they are starting to return now.

"When those players come back from injury they will be like new signings for us and hopefully they will have a big impact for us and help us climb the table."