MANAGER Bob Stokoe cut short a weekend stay in his Blackpool home to motor back to Sunderland this morning for an on-the-spot survey of an injury situation which is approaching crisis proportions. “It is no good complaining,” he told me “but we are worse off now than when I first came and we have signed four players since then.
“We have a “derby” game with Middlesbrough coming up on Saturday and I know now that I am going to be without five players – Bobby Park, Mick McGiven, John Hughes, Jackie Ashurst and David Young. I have no alternative but to bring Richie Pitt back from his four-week loan with Arsenal and the clubs showing interest in Brian Chambers will have to wait a little longer.
“I’ve been trying to get a settled team. That’s what every manager wants. I thought we had reached this point on Saturday, because I was prepared to give the team which played Wednesday a good run.”
The fourth-minute injury to Young destroyed that hope, just as the injury to John Hughes in 30 seconds against Millwall a fortnight earlier had killed off the promise of an extended run for the team on duty that day.
An X-ray examination revealed that there was no bone damage to David Young’s ankle, but it is badly swollen. He has been told to rest up until tomorrow, when he will report for treatment sessions.
Ashurst was carried off with an ankle injury during the youth team’s game against Barnsley on Saturday and he is not only ruled out of a call-up to first team duty on Saturday, but is also a doubtful starter for the FA Youth Cup quarter final tie against Chelsea at Roker Park tomorrow week.
Also on treatment parade was Keith Coleman, who had helped Arsenal Reserves, along with Pitt, to beat Chelsea Reserves 2-0 in a Football Combination game. Coleman did not finish the game because of a shoulder injury which could keep him out of action for four or five week.
“Richie will play on Saturday,” said Mr Stokoe. “He is the most experienced player we have for the job and he can take over from Young in the back four.
“We want to keep Cup interest alive as long as possible, but we have also to make sure there are no slips in the League. When I took over I reckoned we needed a point a game to be sure of keeping out of trouble. From the last seven games we have taken eight points and we want to keep this going.
“It may sound like a gloomy picture, but there was one bright spot,” said Mr Stokoe. “Bobby Mitchell, who has been out with knee ligament injuries since September, had his first come-back game for the youth team in their win over Barnsley and came through it really well.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on February 12 1973.