SUNDERLAND’S survival hopes have been dealt a blow after learning that Steven Fletcher and Lee Cattermole will both miss the remainder of the campaign.
Fletcher suffered ankle ligament damage in Scotland’s World Cup qualifier against Wales last week and tests have now confirmed that the Black Cats’ top scorer will be sidelined for the final seven weeks of the season.
It will not be known for several more weeks though if the 26-year-old requires an operation on the injury.
Fletcher’s absence puts the spotlight on £5million January signing Danny Graham, who has yet to open his account in six appearances in red and white.
And if the loss of 11-goal Fletcher was not bad enough, then skipper Cattermole has also been ruled out for the final eight games.
The news is not altogether unexpected after Cattermole has undergone a series of measures in a bid to cure the knee ligament damage first sustained in November.
Cattermole has been limited to just 60 minutes of first-team football since sustaining the problem and underwent a knee operation today.