EMANUELE GIACCHERINI has been ruled out of the start of the season after suffering a groin injury last night.
Giaccherini limped off during the first half of Sunderland’s 2-0 friendly victory over Real Betis and will be assessed today, although initial assessments suggested the Italian international will be out of action for around a fortnight.
That will keep the 29-year-old sidelined for Sunderland’s opening day trip to West Brom in eight days time, although head coach Gus Poyet was philosophical about the injury blow.
“I’ve been so happy that he has been playing every game, even in the middle of the park,” said Poyet.
“He did very well in Portugal.
“He’s enthusiastic, playing, feeling important and sometimes you do a bit more and you over-stretch a bit.
“Injuries are football.
“It’s not something to worry about. The timing of the injury is not nice for the player.
“But he’ll be back in a couple of weeks, so it’s not going to be tremendously bad for us.
“Let’s hope he recovers well and continues playing the way he’s been playing.”
Giaccherini’s injury was the low point of last night’s encounter, with the high spots coming in the final 10 minutes when strikers Steven Fletcher and Connor Wickham both found the back of the net to sink the Spaniards.
Sunderland had scored just once in their previous three friendly encounters, yet Poyet was not unduly worried by that mini-drought after seeing the demands being placed on the players on the training field.
“It’s not really a relief!” said Poyet.
“With the technical actions a player needs to make, they have to be fit enough, yet fresh.
“We’ve been really stiff in the last three weeks. Sometimes when you get into advanced positions, it looks like you can’t really move.
“The two strikes last night had quality.
“It showed that we had a bit of a rest Monday and Tuesday, and trained a bit differently in preparing the game.
“Last week in Portugal, we were running in the morning and playing in the evening.
“Without scoring yesterday or tomorrow, then yes, I would have said: ‘what is going on?’.
“But I’m pleased for the strikers that they got the goals.”
Meanwhile, Poyet confirmed that frontman Jozy Altidore will make his first appearance of pre-season in tomorrow’s final friendly against Italian outfit Udinese, again at Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Park ground.
“Jozy is back tomorrow and will play part of the game,” added Poyet.