MICHAEL Turner sees a specialist today after suffering a setback on his return from injury.
The commanding centre-half (right) pulled up in training this week with a persistent pain in the back of his damaged knee.
And he will find out in the next 24 hours whether the recurring pain is a minor or a major problem.
Manager Steve Bruce confirmed: “Michael is going in for a scan so that we can find out exactly what the problem is.”
“It is pointless speculating on what might or might not be wrong – we’ll just wait for the results and take it from there. The specialist will use a keyhole camera to look inside and we’re keeping our fingers crossed it’s nothing serious.
“But Michael is as tough a footballer as you’ll find so for him to pull up and say he wasn’t happy with it, tells you something.
“He’ll play through the pain barrier every time so it’s clearly a niggle which has him worried. And it’s a tricky one because it was the posterior knee ligaments he damaged originally and even before that injury he was having a bit of pain there.
“It’s quite possible the problem he’s got isn’t anything to do with the injury he sustained last year at all, but the thing that was originally troubling him in the first place.”
Either way, it’s a massive blow for the 26-year-old who has been sidelined since November with knee ligament damage but was doing so well in his comeback bid over the last couple of weeks.
He was injured as he cleared what would have been a goal from Tim Cahill in the game against Everton on November 22 – sliding in to make a great goal-line clearance but colliding with the goalpost as a result.
Although adrenalin saw him able to play the remainder of the game, it emerged afterwards he had damaged the ligaments at the back of the knee, for which the only treatment was to have the leg in a brace so that the muscle fibres could knit back together again.
The brace came off though at the turn of the year and Turner was making steady progress until this new setback.
Bruce told the Echo: “I feel for him and I feel for us! We’ve missed him an awful lot at the back where his physical presence and his desire to head clear were major factors in our strong defensive start to the season.
“I know how much he was looking forward to making his return a month or so from now.
“Hopefully he’ll not be too far away from that mark and hopefully the scan will provide good news but for the moment all we can do is wait and see.”