DANNY Welbeck could miss a further two months of action with a knee injury, Steve Bruce has confirmed.
Welbeck was stretchered off in the closing stages of Sunderland’s win at Aston Villa on January 5 with what was initially diagnosed as a grade one hamstring tear.
It had been expected that the on-loan Manchester United striker would return to the fold for the start of a busy February.
But the 20-year-old saw a specialist on Wednesday who diagnosed a torn cartilage which required surgery.
Bruce said: “Danny was operated on on Wednesday and it was confirmed he had a torn cartilage and he will be out for six to eight weeks.”
Confirmation of Welbeck’s lay-off is a major blow to Bruce, coming so soon after Darren Bent’s departure to Aston Villa.
It leaves Bruce with just Asamoah Gyan as his only fit striker for tomorrow’s trip to Blackpool.
The game also comes too soon for skipper Lee Cattermole, although the 22-year-old could be involved in Sunderland’s clash with Chelsea in 10 days time.
John Mensah is another of the injury absentees who could return against the reigning Premier League champions although Michael Turner, David Meyler and Fraizer Campbell remain sidelined.