RYAN Noble has become the latest of Sunderland’s strikers to fall foul of the injury curse.
The 19-year-old had been expected to be on the bench for the visit of Fulham tomorrow with Fraizer Campbell, Danny Welbeck and Asamoah Gyan all ruled out.
But Noble jarred his knee within the first 15 minutes of Wednesday’s youth team win at Derby County and was swiftly substituted.
Sunderland replaced the teenage forward as a precaution, but the problem hasn’t improved and Noble is now a major doubt for tomorrow’s Stadium of Light clash.
He isn’t the only player to add to Steve Bruce’s injury headache with David Meyler unlikely to be risked as he returns from his second major knee problem inside 12 months while Kieran Richardson remains troubled by a sore calf.
John Mensah has returned to training although the on-loan Lyon defender is still at least a week away from being in serious contention.
Bruce said: “Asa, Danny and Fraizer Campbell obviously won’t play.
“David Meyler won’t make it either while John Mensah is 50-50 and I can’t see Kieran Richardson being fit.
“It will probably be what we went with in the second half against Wigan.
“It’s a shame Ryan got injured playing for the youth team as he was an option at one stage.
“But it doesn’t look as if he’s going to make it either which sums us up.”
Noble was the only orthodox striker available to Bruce, but with the Millfield-born hitman ruled out, the Sunderland boss has no option than to turn to Stephane Sessegnon and Steed Malbranque to lead the line.
The duo impressed in the second half against Wigan last weekend and Bruce believes they can cause Fulham similar concerns.
Bruce added: “Sessegnon and Malbranque have good experience. They are not the biggest, but they will cause a few problems in in different ways.
“They caused Wigan all sorts of problems. With Sessegnon’s pace and Steed in behind him, they played particularly well last week.
“I haven’t got many other options so that’s probably what I will go with.
“We haven’t got a recognised striker, but we managed to score four last week so you never know.”
Youngster Billy Knott come into the reckonging for a place in the squad again.