Another huge midfield blow for Sunderland as star set to miss crunch games

Didier Ndong
Didier Ndong
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Sunderland have been hit with another midfield blow after Didier Ndong was called up by Gabon for their African Cup of Nations squad.

The club record signing has been included in Gabon's 23-man squad for the tournament for which they are hosts.

The Black Cats had hoped Ndong would be dropped by his national side after being sent home in disgrace for missing a pre-arranged training session in November.

But the Gabonese Football Federation have called up the £13.6million man, who could miss a month of action.

The tournament starts on January 14, with Gabon's preparations beginning a week earlier. It means Ndong might miss Sunderland's home FA Cup third-round tie against Burnley on January 7 and the Premier League matches against Stoke, West Brom, Tottenham and Crystal Palace.

It's another blow to boss David Moyes' resources. He is already without long-term injury victims Paddy McNair, Lee Cattermole, Duncan Watmore, Lynden Gooch and Jan Kirchhoff, while Jack Rodwell and Steven Pienaar - who can also operate in central midfield - are on the treatment table too.

Ndong has struggled at times to adapt to the Premier league since his big-money summer move, and was at fault for Manchester United's second goal yesterday, but his absence will still be seen as a blow given the paucity of Moyes' midfield options.