Injury blow for Sunderland as Paddy McNair suffers setback
Sunderland have been dealt a major blow after Paddy McNair suffered a set back in his recovery from a long-term knee injury.
The versatile 22-year-old, who can play in either central midfield or defence, will miss the start of the season.
It is an early injury blow for new boss Simon Grayson, with McNair expected to play an important role as Sunderland look to bounce back from relegation to the Championship.
The Northern Ireland international has been out since last November after rupturing his cruciate ligament in the 3-0 win against Hull City.
The Echo understands he will definitely miss the start of the season and is a doubt for Northern Ireland’s World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Czech Republic in early September.
In August, Sunderland face Derby County, Norwich City, Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds United and Barnsley in a busy opening month, with Bury away in the EFL Cup too.
McNair had been on course to be fit for the start of pre-season and spent time in Portugal last month alongside Duncan Watmore, who also missed the second half of last season with a knee injury, working on his fitness.
Watmore is currently away with the first team on their training camp in Austria but McNair has stayed behind after suffering his set-back.
George Honeyman had spoken recently about the boost Sunderland would receive by the pair’s return, adding: “It will be a big boost to get Dunc and Paddy back because they’re going to be two big players for us this year.”
McNair, who made nine Premier League appearances last season after arriving from Manchester United, now faces more time on the sidelines with Grayson already short on numbers as he looks to bolster his squad.
The midfielder, who represented his country at Euro 2016, had played in the back-to-back wins against Bournemouth and Hull before injury brought an early end to his campaign.
Meanwhile, John O’Shea, Jeremain Lens and Didier Ndong are due back at the Academy of Light later this week having been given an extended break due to international commitments at the end of last season.