Sunderland’s Turner out for January

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MICHAEL Turner’s niggling knee injury has proven more troublesome than first expected and the big defender is expected to miss not only the rest of Sunderland’s festive programme but most of January at least.

Turner was injured in the 2-1 defeat to Wigan Athletic on November 26, getting through the 90 minutes but straining his knee in the process.

The injury was regarded as minor at the time and the club remains unworried about there being any long-term effects. But with Turner already having had a lengthy lay-off with damaged knee ligaments, the club is proceeding carefully.

Manager Martin O’Neill confirmed: “Michael is not expected to be fit until the middle of January at the earliest.”

Turner’s absence has reinforced in O’Neill’s mind the importance of Titus Bramble to the cause.

The new manager recalled the troubled defender for his first game in charge – the 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers – and has played in the club’s following two games.

O’Neill told the Echo: “We have to make the absolute best use of the squad that we can. Titus has been excellent in the games that he has played.”