Chris Coleman's revealing response when asked about Sunderland's lengthy injury list

Sunderland were without 11 players for the FA Cup exit to Middlesbrough - and Chris Coleman admits "one or two" could be doing more to make themselves available.

Saturday, 6th January 2018, 4:48 pm
Updated Saturday, 6th January 2018, 4:55 pm
Sunderland manager Chris Coleman.

Coleman was without full back Adam Matthews (calf), defender Lamine Kone (knee), Lynden Gooch (hamstring), Lee Cattermole (thigh), Darron Gibson (groin), Didier Ndong (ankle), Jack Rodwell (hamstring) plus long-term injury victims Jonny Williams (shoulder) and Duncan Watmore (knee).

The Black Cats were also missing Paddy McNair (groin) and Aiden McGeady (calf).

The Sunderland boss says he needs to support those players that are available for selection and he was keen to stress in the immediate aftermath of the 2-0 defeat to Tony Pulis' Boro side at the Riverside: "We are in a dogfight, you don't go into a dogfight with kittens."

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Sunderland's lengthy injury problems are well documented and when asked of the 11 out, whether some could be doing more to make themselves available for selection, Coleman said: "You would have to ask our medical team that. I see where you are going with that.

"My conscience is clear, I am ready for what is coming and won't duck it. You don't always come out on top but I never duck it. You would have to ask the players.

"We are in a dogfight, you don't go into a dogfight with kittens. That is for sure. I need whoever is ready for it. Our boys today had a go.

"We were a bit naive and nervous here and there but at least they are out there having a go. We need to support them, they need support in terms of strength and depth.

"Some of our guys have long-term injuries, some are out for two to three weeks. They have scans and we've seen all that. Could one or two be doing a bit more to be with us? Yes."

Coleman was forced to field some younger players with Josh Maja leading the line and Ethan Robson making his first senior start in central midfield alongside defender Marc Wilson.

Joel Asoro and Elliot Embleton both came off the bench in the second half and Coleman believes the youngsters will benefit from first team exposure.

Coleman added: "That experience for them is the same playing 50 Under-23 games. I promise you. Being in amongst it, real football.

"That is better. Under-23 football is what it is. First team football you play against Middlesbrough, a good team, that will do them the world of good.

"They will learn from it and get better and we will get better with them. That experience is invaluable."