LOUIS LAING will be sidelined for up to six weeks after sustaining a pre-season ankle injury.
The Echo revealed last week that the Sunderland academy product had suffered another injury blow after spending seven months of last season on the treatment table with a foot problem.
Laing was struck down during the Under-21s’ pre-season tour of Germany and Holland, with the diagnosis now showing that the centre-half will be ruled out for a four to six week-period.
Although that is not as long as first feared, it is still a blow for the 20-year-old, who has been unable to bridge the gap with the first-team since starring under Steve Bruce in pre-season two years ago.
Sunderland Under-21 coach Kevin Ball said: “In Germany, Louis unfortunately tweaked his ankle and if it’s going to be four to six weeks then so be it.
“That’s life. There’s nothing you can do about it.
“You’ve got to say yourself ‘I’m going to be fit again in six weeks’ and work towards that.”
Laing missed the U21s’ first game of the season this week, as Ball’s side triumphed 1-0 against Bolton.
But the defender was not the only player missing.
Ball has several of his rookies on the sidelines, including John Egan, Connor Oliver, Craig Lynch and Jordan Watson.
Lynch is the only member of the quartet to have featured during the U21s’ pre-season, yet Ball is adopting a cautious policy in getting his players back into action.
“We’ve got quite a few missing that would enhance the squad or the team,” added Ball.
“The likes of John, Louis, Connor, Jordan, Lynchy.
“One or two have injuries that the physio says we might have to leave them out a bit longer and I’m fine with that.
“As a precaution, the last thing we want is for them to go over the top in pre-season and then miss the season.
“In the main, they’ve all had a good pre-season and they’re ready.”