Sunderland defender Mensah’s season in doubt

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JOHN Mensah’s season is in doubt after scans revealed a grade two abductor muscle tear which will sideline him for “at least three weeks”.

The central defender was forced off the pitch a dozen minutes into Sunderland’s 3-2 weekend defeat to West Bromwich Albion, clearly in discomfort and limping badly and scans have shown that the muscle injury is a serious one.

The Ghanaian skipper will not be expected to play again this month and it will be early May before he is expected to have a chance of being available again.

Although this season is a longer one than normal – the campaign not finishing until the trip to West Ham on May 22 – there have to be doubts over whether Mensah will return for the concluding few games, given his habit of breaking down on the comeback trail.

Mensah himself will be desperate to return as he looks to prove himself worthy of a third successive season-long loan spell at the Stadium of Light next season.

But he is certain to miss the games against Birmingham, Wigan and Fulham, while the match at Bolton on May 7 could be a stretch, leaving only the games against Wolves and West Ham looking possibilities.

His absence means Steve Bruce faces another selection headache, with fellow centre-half Titus Bramble already expected to be out for the remainder of the season.

The manager will have to decide who partners Michael Turner for Sunderland’s trip to Birmingham this Saturday, with obvious choice Anton Ferdinand also a doubt following his hamstring strain.

That would mean Bruce probably looking to put Nedum Onuoha in at centre-half which would mean either Phil Bardsley or Ahmed Elmohamady at right-back, with injury-doubt Kieran Richardson or Jack Colback filling in at left-back.