The two-week break from Premier League action has come at a “good time” for Sunderland after Jan Kirchhoff became Sam Allardyce’s latest injury concern.
Kirchhoff limped off during the first half of Saturday’s 2-1 win over Manchester United with a hamstring injury and will be assessed this week, as the squad head to Dubai for some warm-weather training.
The German joins Jeremain Lens (groin), Younes Kaboul and Duncan Watmore (both ankle) on the treatment table, while Seb Larsson has only just returned to full training from two months on the sidelines with a knee injury.
But the FA Cup fifth round has left Sunderland with a fortnight before they return to action at Allardyce’s former club West Ham, and by then, the Black Cats boss hopes to have Larsson and possibly Kaboul, Kirchhoff and Lens back in the fold. Allardyce said: “The break has come at a good time because of the injuries.
“Lens has just had a hernia op. There’s Kaboul, Watmore and obviously Kirchhoff, who came off injured. Two weeks gives us a great opportunity to get people fit. Seb Larsson is making his way back.”
Sunderland will spend this week in the Middle East, where they will use the facilities at Dubai Sports City – run by ex-Real Madrid full-back Michel Salgado, who played under Allardyce at Blackburn.
While he is not on the injured list, the break will also prove beneficial for Jermain Defoe, who completed 70 minutes against United after passing a late fitness test amid doubts over his hamstring.
Allardyce added: “He’ll be alright because we protected him by making sure we brought him off. Fatigue kicks in in the last 10 or 15 minutes and if you’ve had a fitness test on a hamstring, the last thing we wanted was him pulling up and being out for three or four weeks.”