KEIREN WESTWOOD could need an operation to cure the shoulder problem which has been plaguing him for the last two months.
Sunderland had hoped goalkeeper Westwood would be available for tomorrow’s clash with Norwich City after more than a month’s absence from the Black Cats squad.
But the 29-year-old, who started the season as Sunderland number one, continues to be troubled by a shoulder injury which may now require surgery.
Westwood was forced to pull out of the Republic of Ireland squad in October with the problem and was given a pain-killing injection which initially appeared to have solved it.
But the injury was aggravated in Sunderland’s defeat at Hull last month after a clash with Paul McShane forced the stopper off.
Head coach Gus Poyet said: “Keiren is seeing a specialist and is still feeling it a little bit.
“We need to make that decision now on what is the next step with him. It’s a medical decision which we need to make.
“It’s difficult to decide what will be better for him – an operation or not. The medical staff need to be convinced, but an operation is one of the options.”
Summer signing Vito Mannone has deputised well in Westwood’s absence, but he is the only other senior goalkeeper on Sunderland’s books.
Youngsters Jordan Pickford and Joel Dixon have both been on the bench over recent weeks, yet if Westwood does go under the knife, it could lead Poyet to consider entering the market for a goalkeeper in January.
Sunderland have been linked with QPR’s Julio Cesar, although the Brazilian’s wages at Loftus Road would be far more than the Black Cats were willing to pay.