Phil Bardsley and Matt Kilgallon have been ruled out of Sunderland’s pre-season trip to South Korea through injury, writes Chris Young.
The defensive duo are both struggling with knocks and Black Cats boss Martin O’Neill is eager not to take any chances on the pair for the long-haul trip to East Asia.
Full-back Bardsley injured his ankle on only the second day of pre-season on Thursday and although the 27-year-old has avoided any broken bones, he is not expected to recover in time to feature in either of the two games in Korea.
With Sunderland facing a 14-hour journey to Korea for the Peace Cup, Bardsley is almost certain to remain at the Academy of Light for treatment.
O’Neill told the Echo: “Phil Bardsley might not make it after he hurt himself on Thursday.
“He went over on his ankle and it’s really sore. Nothing’s broken, but he’s done a bit of damage.
“He’s very doubtful and I don’t think the trip would be good for him.
“One, he wouldn’t be able to play and two, being back and forth on a plane would be no benefit.”
Meanwhile, former Sheffield United centre-half Kilgallon has not even participated in Sunderland’s pre-season regime yet after sustaining an injury while attempting to remain in shape during the close season.
“Matt had been trying to do some work himself over the summer to keep fit and he injured himself doing that,” added O’Neill.
“He came back with a bit of a problem so the best thing to do is to leave him out of it I think.”
The injuries to Bardsley and Kilgallon is likely to open the door to the group of young professionals who have been training with the first-team this week.
Billy Knott, Louis Laing, John Egan, Craig Lynch, Adam Reed, Ryan Noble, Roarie Deacon, Jordan Pickford and Blair Adams have all been joining in with their senior counterparts and will head to Korea with the rest of the group on Monday.