STEVE Bruce’s meagre options have been further depleted after youngster Jordan Cook limped out of last night’s reserves encounter.
Rookie forward Cook was an 88th minute substitute in the first-team’s 4-2 defeat to Chelsea on Tuesday after Sunderland were left without six key players, including fellow strikers Danny Welbeck and Fraizer Campbell
It was Cook’s second outing of the season from the bench after making his Black Cats debut at Manchester United on Boxing Day.
But Cook suffered a recurrence of his hamstring problem early in last night’s 5-1 victory over Scunthorpe United which is expected to rule him out of the weekend’s trip to Stoke City.
Reserve team boss Keith Bertschin said: “I think it might be his old hamstring injury which seems to be affected when he puts himself in a match situation rather than training.
“He’s been doing so well and we’re not blessed with loads of strikers and I feel for him because he’s on the fringe of the first team.
“Whatever is causing him a little problem has not gone away and I’m sure he’s hugely frustrated by it.”
Ironically Cook’s 14th minute replacement Jordan Laidler blossomed.
He finished with two goals to his name and linking up effectively with fellow striker Matthew Fletcher, who grabbed the opener.
The comfortable victory was Sunderland’s first win in four and took them to the top of their qualifying group in the Totesport Cup.
“The strikers worked really hard playing as a pair,” said Bertschin. “They’ve been used to playing up there on their own or as a three.
“It’s just getting them used to different things and taking the defenders into areas they’re not comfortable with.
“There was some terrific movement and they played as a pair – complementing each other very well.”
He added: “Over the last few weeks, the players have just dropped the pace a little bit.
“But I think the main thing was they just wanted to restore their reputation a little bit and get some minutes behind them. Whatever we said to them, they thought about it during the week and wanted to make it right which they have done.”