NEW SIGNING John O’Shea will miss Sunderland’s final friendly at Hibs on Saturday AND the start of the Premier League season.
The Manchester United utility player has been recuperating from a hamstring strain suffered in Germany but was expected to play in Sunderland’s final pre-season friendly and be ready for the season’s opener against Liverpool.
But that timetable is now out of the window, with O’Shea still far from 100 per cent fit.
“O’Shea’s still feeling his hamstring,” said assistant manager Eric Black.
“It’s hard to put a date on his return because he’s actually starting to heal pretty well.
“But it’s too soon to say whether it’s going to be two weeks, three weeks, four weeks. It’s hard to tell, but he’s definitely progressing.”
Black admitted there was an element of frustration about the niggling knocks the Manchester United pair O’Shea and Wes Brown have sustained.
“That is probably why they’re here.” he said, acknowledging that the league champions don’t allow their finest players to leave cheaply.
But he was also quick to point out how valuable both are likely to be for Sunderland this season with competition in defence now fierce, especially with Titus Bramble and Michael Turner getting a full 90 minutes under their belt last night in the 3-0 win at Darlington.
Turner’s pre-season has also been disrupted by minor injury but Black expects him to available for Liverpool.
“He will be ready to be considered I’m sure, if he stays injury-free,” he said.
“ It was great to see Michael play 90 minutes, so he’ll be in the process, the same as everyone else, and we’ll have to see what the manager decides on the 13th. “It’s just how close we can get him to that in the next 10 days. It will be the best ones who have shown what they can do in pre-season that play at Liverpool, and the manager I’m sure will pick the best two for central defence.”
Black believes the squad are now almost impatient to begin the task ahead in the new campaign.
“It gets to a point in pre-season where after the first two or three games it starts to drag a little bit and you’re desperate for the kick-off.
“I thought the players approached the game in the right manner against Darlington but they want to be involved in the real football, and that’s coming fast.”