PATRICK van Aanholt will be sidelined until 2015 after being told he requires surgery on his injured shoulder.
Sunderland had been hoping van Aanholt would be sidelined for around a month after he was stretchered off at Crystal Palace six days ago with a dislocated shoulder.
But with the subsequent damage now apparent, Sunderland have been told that the left-back needs to go under the knife and he now faces up to three months on the sidelines.
Sunderland boss Gus Poyet said: “I can tell you it’s bad news. He’ll need an operation.
“He’s going to be out for two and a half months, or a little bit more.”
Van Aanholt’s injury deprives Sunderland of the only specialist left-back in the first-team squad, although academy product Tom Robson was an unused substitute for today’s 1-1 draw against Everton.
However, right-back Anthony Reveillere was again solid as he deputised in van Aanholt’s spot against the Toffees, while Poyet is hopeful that his options will be boosted significantly when Sunderland resume Premier League action at Leicester after the two-week international break.
Sunderland will have Lee Cattermole back from suspension, while South American pair Sebastian Coates and Ricky Alvarez are both due to be in contention.
Emanuele Giaccherini and Billy Jones should be on the verge of returning to training by then too.
“Two should be back with us training during the international break and Billy and Giaccherini just before Leicester or the Monday after,” added Poyet.
“For the game after Leicester, we should have everyone back other than Patrick.”