INJURED PAIR Billy Jones and Emanuele Giaccherini will NOT be back in the fold before next month’s international break.
Right-back Jones was originally expected to be sidelined for around three weeks after suffering a hamstring injury in a behind-closed-doors game against Middlesbrough a fortnight ago.
But the summer signing has not made the progress which was envisaged and the 27-year-old faces another three weeks on the treatment table – sidelining him until the end of the fortnight’s international break which gets underway after the visit of Everton on November 9.
Likewise, Giaccherini will be sidelined until at least next month, with the Italian international still wearing a protective boot after suffering bruising to his ankle at Burnley.
Sunderland boss Gus Poyet told the Echo: “Billy will still need another three weeks at least.
“Giaccherini is still in the boot and will be for a certain amount of weeks.
“It’s a bit more flexible than similar injuries. He can do certain things without the boot, but for the rest of the day he needs the boot on.”
Ricky Alvarez is the closest of Sunderland’s injured contingent to returning to the fold, but despite hopes that the on-loan Inter Milan midfielder could be back in training next week, the Argentine international won’t now meet that target.
However, American striker Jozy Altidore is available for tomorrow’s encounter against Arsenal after missing last weekend’s rout at Southampton for personal reasons.
And Wes Brown is fully fit, with Poyet confirming it was tactical reasons which prompted him to substitute the ex-England international at half-time at St Mary’s.
It was a change which backfired, with midfielder Liam Bridcutt enduring a torturous 45 minutes as a makeshift right-back.
Poyet said: “Wes is fit. It was my decision, right or wrong. There were things going on in the first half that in the previous two games we’d done better.
“I cannot put it on Wes. It’s my decision.
“Wes will play Saturday normally. It’s not like he’s not going to play anymore for us or anything.”
While Brown is likely to keep his place in the side, Poyet does expect to make changes against the Gunners, with the likes of Adam Johnson and Jack Rodwell both pushing for inclusion.
But there will no fresh face in goal, with Poyet confirming that he intends to keep faith in Vito Mannone, rather than hand a Sunderland Premier League bow to summer signing Costel Pantilimon, despite the Italian stopper shipping eight goals at Southampton.
“Normally I don’t change the goalkeeper when they have a bad game,” said Poyet.
“When they have two bad games, then they have a problem.
“The other goalkeeper is very good, but, at the moment, there is no decision to make.”
He added: “Because of the squad we’ve got, it’s not like I can change 10.
“Don’t worry, 75 per cent of the team (from Southampton) is going to have the chance to play tomorrow.”