JOHN O’SHEA looks certain to be out of Sunderland’s game against Chelsea this weekend after developing hip and calf problems while away on international duty.
The 30-year-old only returned to first-team action at Swansea City on August 27 after a five-week lay-off with a hamstring problem, but he jetted off immediately to link up with the Republic of Ireland for crucial Euro 2012 qualifiers.
And the always risky schedule seems to have backfired with the defender missing out on the Republic’s game against Russia tomorrow night after picking up injuries in the goalless draw with Slovakia on Saturday.
O’Shea had hoped that the international games would help ratchet up his fitness in preparation for this Saturday’s visit of Chelsea to the Stadium of Light.
He told the Echo before he flew off to the Republic training camp: “I’ll get my fitness from playing for Ireland and hopefully some confidence from two good results.
“I’ll need three or four games probably to get into full flight because I was blowing at times during the game from Swansea.”
Instead, the intensity of the training and games so soon after his return seems to have taken their toll.
The former Manchester United man has now returned to Sunderland, where his fitness is being assessed by the club’s medical staff.
It is unlikely O’Shea will rule himself out for the weekend’s clash with the Blues, but the club might decide to err on the side of caution and try to have him ready for the following fixture – the visit of Stoke City on September 18.
Whatever happens, Bruce will be forced to reshuffle the defence which secured the club’s first clean sheet of the season against Swansea.
With Anton Ferdinand’s sale to QPR last week, there are likely to be two changes to the back four with the likelihood being that Titus Bramble will partner Wes Brown in the heart of defence with Phil Bardsley and Kieran Richardson full-backs.
There was better international news for the Black Cats from Ghana, though, where Asamoah Gyan’s injury in Friday’s game against Swaziland has not proven to be as serious as it first appeared.
The striker was stetchered off after just 38 minutes and will miss tonight’s glamour friendly against Brazil at Fulham’s Craven Cottage, but he should not be sidelined for long.
Ghana team doctor Percy Adnan said: “The scans revealed that there was no muscle tear in his thigh, but he felt contusion in the area. He would be able to return to action soon.”
Gyan said: “I would have really wished to feature in this one, but I totally understand what the medics are saying.It’s fine by me and I will cheer the guys on.”
Sunderland full-back Bardsley looks set to recover from the calf problem that forced him off in the 75th minute of Scotland’s heartbreaking 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic on Saturday – and play in tomorrow’s Hampden qualifier against Lithuania.