ROOKIE stopper Ben Wilson is in line for a place in Sunderland’s squad to face mighty Manchester United this weekend with the Black Cats looking certain to be thwarted in any bid to bring in an emergency keeper.
With Simon Mignolet joining Craig Gordon on the injured list on Saturday, Keiren Westwood is the only keeper of any recognised experience at the club and manager Steve Bruce was toying on Saturday with the idea of approaching the Premier League for permission to make a loan signing as cover.
But the Premier League’s rules are strict and although there is a clause allowing discretion, it seems that Sunderland would only qualify if Westwood, too, was sidelined.
With Westwood fit and young professional Wilson also on the books, the Premier League is expected to reject an approach if one is made this week.
And the 18-year-old will get the nod if, as seems likely, Northern Ireland keeper Trevor Carson’s back injury, prevents him from taking a place on the substitutes’ bench. Sunderland will give 21-year-old Carson every chance to prove his fitness but the Irishman is struggling.
The broken nose suffered by first-team choice Simon Mignolet on Saturday has ruled the Belgian out of the trip to Old Trafford and is probably set to sideline him for several games more.
He underwent an operation on Sunday to deal with the damage, which was far, far more than a simple break and although the international break after the Manchester United game will give him more time to recover, he must still be a real doubt for the home games against Fulham and Wigan which see out the remainder of November.
With Craig Gordon having taken longer to recover from knee surgery than expected, the Scottish international has no chance of returning to first-team contention in the next few weeks.
That leaves Bruce the option of turning to former Northern Ireland Under 21 keeper Trevor Carson, currently on loan at League One side Bury.
But the Irishman missed his club’s game against Stevenage at the weekend with a bad back and it would be pointless recalling a keeper who is an injury doubt himself.
That leaves Sunderland looking at their junior keepers, Ben Wilson, Lewis King and Jordan Pickford and it is 18-year-old Wilson who is the most senior of the trio.
It would be a massive promotion for Wilson, who could be on the bench for several weeks to come and who would face coming on at Old Trafford if Westwood took a knock this Saturday.
But the chance for a second-year professional to be part of the Premier League action doesn’t come along very often and it would be something the 18-year-old would relish.