Jeremain Lens should be fit for the Tyne-Wear derby, despite suffering a minor injury set-back in his return from a hernia operation.
Winger Lens has missed Sunderland’s last five games after being forced to undergo surgery on his groin injury, yet he had been expected to return to action for tomorrow’s trip to Southampton.
However, Lens remains sidelined with internal bruising stemming from the operation.
The Dutch international’s absence will not be prolonged though, with Sam Allardyce expecting the big-money summer capture to be available when Sunderland return to action at St James’s Park on March 20 after a fortnight’s break from Premier League action.
Allardyce told the Echo: “He is not ready for this weekend. He has had a little bit of a problem with a haematoma where the arthroscope went in, but we think the operation is done and dusted now and he will be OK for the Newcastle game.”
Duncan Watmore and Lee Cattermole will also miss the trip to St Mary’s, with the latter suffering concussion in Tuesday’s draw against Crystal Palace after an ugly clash of heads with fellow midfielder Jordon Mutch.
But skipper John O’Shea is expected to be available tomorrow, despite being forced off against Palace with a tight calf.
The 34-year-old was sidelined over the festive period with a similar issue, but scans have shown that the centre-half’s injury is not as severe as first feared.
“I think John O’Shea could be OK. We didn’t see too much damage on the scan,” added Allardyce.
If O’Shea is passed fit, he will resume his central defensive partnership with Lamine Kone, after Younes Kaboul replaced the Irishman from the bench against Palace to make his first appearance since December.