STEPHANE Sessegnon admits Sunderland need to swiftly integrate Ji Dong-won into their line-up – if Connor Wickham faces a significant spell on the sidelines.
Initial tests on Wickham have been positive after Sunderland had feared the worst when the 18-year-old was stretchered off in last weekend’s defeat at Manchester United.
The damage to the £8million striker’s knee is not as serious as first thought, although Sunderland will not discover the full extent of the injury until the end of the week at the earliest.
Black Cats boss Steve Bruce said: “Initial scans are encouraging, but hopefully we will know more by the end of the week.”
But Wickham remains a major doubt for Fulham’s trip to the Stadium of Light in 10 days time, with Ji in line to make his first Premier League start against the Cottagers.
South Korean hitman Ji replaced Wickham just five minutes into the Old Trafford encounter and worked tirelessly alongside Nicklas Bendtner.
But Sunderland still failed to force Manchester United stopper Anders Lindegaard into a meaningful save and Sessegnon knows Bruce’s men must find more attacking fluency against a Fulham side lying just a place below them in the table.
Sessegnon (pictured inset, below) told the Echo: “I hope Connor can make a swift recovery and the injury isn’t too bad.
“He has given us something different, because we needed more goals in the side.
“He played well in the two games before Man United and got his first goal against Aston Villa.
“We had to change it a bit when Connor went off injured last weekend and it affected us before we got used to it.
“Ji came on, played well and worked hard, but we’ve got to get used to how he plays.”
Fulham is the first of four games against sides lying in the bottom half of the Premier League table, with Sunderland needing to put a sequence of results together after a modest start to the campaign.
While none of Sunderland’s five defeats have been by more than a one-goal margin, Sessegnon admits the Black Cats need wins, rather than close shaves.
“We can’t have any more hard luck stories, without picking up points,” added the Benin international.
“These games are important because we need to get into a winning mentality. It’s time that we started playing to our maximum and putting some results together.
“There are no easy games in the Premier League.
“We’ve got to approach the next four in the same manner as we did the game at Man United.
“But we need to take some points and climb the table.
“The league is progressing now and we need to get back into the top half.”