RICKY ALVAREZ is unlikely to play again this season, with injury ruling him out of Sunderland’s survival bid.
Alvarez has been plagued by a troublesome knee injury throughout his time at Sunderland, with the on-loan Inter Milan midfielder sidelined for two months in the autumn with the problem.
I don’t think we’ll see him again this season.Dick Advocaat
Sunderland had hoped they had identified the source of the injury at the turn of the year and envisaged that Alvarez would play a key role during the second half of the season.
But Alvarez – who has started just FIVE Premier League games in red and white – has continued to suffer pain and is now expected to miss the final seven outings, as Sunderland look to secure their Premier League status.
The final blow appears to have been Gus Poyet’s last game against Aston Villa, when Alvarez was substituted at half-time, with the 26-year-old not involved in Dick Advoaat’s first two matches in charge of Sunderland.
Head coach Advocaat confirmed to the Echo: “He’s very much injured.
“I’m not sure what’s going on, but it’s not positive.
“I don’t think we’ll see him again this season.”
The loss of Alvarez – who has blown hot and cold during his loan spell – is not the setback it perhaps could have been, with fellow winger Adam Johnson now back in the fold and Advocaat successfully deploying strikers Connor Wickham, Steven Fletcher and Jermain Defoe together so far during his reign.
Will Buckley is also fit again after more than two months out through a knee problem, with Advocaat pleased by the former Brighton wideman’s run-out in the Under-21s’ 3-2 win over Southampton on Monday afternoon.
However, Alvarez’s latest injury set-back will raise fresh questions over whether he will be seen again in a Sunderland shirt.
There continue to be reports in Italy that there is a clause in Alvarez’s loan deal forcing Sunderland to sign him in an £8million deal at the end of the season, if they are still in the Premier League.
Poyet had distanced the club from those claims when he was still in charge, yet Inter appear to be banking on their summer transfer budget being boosted by Alvarez’s sale.