KIERAN RICHARDSON is Sunderland’s major injury worry as they look to arrest a three-game winless Premier League run in Saturday’s visit of Liverpool.
Richardson was replaced with five minutes remaining of last weekend’s dramatic Tyne-Wear derby after succumbing to a calf strain.
The 27-year-old has undergone a scan on the injury this week, but Black Cats boss Martin O’Neill admits the former Manchester United man is a doubt to face the Carling Cup winners.
Jack Colback and on-loan Manchester City defender Wayne Bridge will be on stand-by to replace Richardson, who has started Sunderland’s last 11 games at left-back.
O’Neill told the Echo: “Kieran did get an injury. He had a scan yesterday, which is a concern.”
But Richardson’s fellow defender John O’Shea will be fit to partner Michael Turner for the weekend’s game despite breaking a bone in his hand at the Sports Direct Arena.
The 30-year-old centre-back will wear a protective cast over the injury, but, after seeing a specialist on Monday, it is not deemed serious enough to see him sidelined.
Likewise, right-back Phil Bardsley will continue in the starting XI after recovering from a calf strain to help Sunderland to a 1-1 draw against the Magpies.
O’Neill said: “John O’Shea got a hand injury at Newcastle. It’s a small bone in his hand which has fractured.
“But he wants to play on Saturday, so we’ll splint it up for a few weeks.
“He could hardly hold anything after the game – he doesn’t even remember how it happened.
“I was really worried about him. He went down to a place at Wigan on Monday, but the news was good.”
He added: “Phil pulled out of the Scottish squad and I was speaking to the doctor and he went for the scan. In fairness to him, he said he really wanted to get fit and, in wanting to get fit, he did do which was great.”
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Keiren Westwood and on-loan Greek centre-half Sotirios Kyrgiakos will remain on the treatment table, although the duo are not long-term absentees.
Westwood was missing from the bench on Tyneside due to a wrist injury, while Kyrgiakos is suffering from a foot problem despite offering to play through the pain on Tyneside.
O’Neill added: “Kyrgiakos had a foot injury. He offered to take the pain-killing injection if he was going to start or be on the bench.
“I thought we’d give him a week to get right and that will have helped him.
“Obviously, it’s been frustrating since he came here, and the same for Bridge in many aspects, because the team has done fine. Keiren should be another week, too.”