Just why have Sunderland had so many injuries this season?
Joel Asoro being stretchered off in Sunderland's U23 clash with Liverpool yesterday was the latest in a long line of injuries for the Black Cats this season.
Although the extent of the injury is not yet known, and the initial verdict is that it is not serious, the Swede would in all likelihood have being pushing for a squad place for the visit of Spurs tomorrow night.
David Moyes has faced an unprecedented injury crisis throughout the season, to established first-teamers, fringe players and youngsters.
It is, by his own admission, the worst he has ever witnessed in his managerial career.
So why has it been so bad?
Here, we try to identify some of the reasons why they the Black Cats have suffered so much...
It may not be the most exciting explanation, but much of Sunderland’s injury woe can be attributed to a fair share of bad luck.
Injuries have not just afflicted Sunderland, at the bottom of the league this season, who currently have ten concerns.
Hull City have nine players unavailable through injury at the moment, and have suffered throughout the campaign. Swansea, who have largely been immensely fortunate, currently have eight concerns.
Crystal Palace have seven.
Yet what has particularly harmed Sunderland, and Hull City it must be said, so badly, was perfectly articulated by Seb Larsson.
He said: “The one thing that I suppose is surprising this year is that we’ve had so many long-term injuries and they’re all different, so it’s hard to say why.
“It’s rare we’ve had some one missing for just one game, it’s been 6-12 weeks which is a fair bit of time.”
Indeed, most of Sunderland’s long-term injuries have come from contact during games, and have affected players hitherto without any major injury problems.
Duncan Watmore was injured in a tackle with Christian Fuchs.
Paddy McNair was injured closing down Curtis Davies. Jordan Pickford was injured in a collision with his own defender. Lynden Gooch fellawkwardly after a tackle in an U23 game. Victor Anichebe’s most recent injury came after a collision with Claudio Yacob.
Furthermore, closer analysis of David Moyes’ injury record shows this season to have been an anomaly. According to data provided by premierinjuries.com, Moyes has suffered an injury in his squad once every 3.2 days.
In his final three seasons at Everton, it was one in just every eight days. Injuries have been both more frequent and more severe than at any point of his time in the top flight.
There has also been a significant jump in the number of muscular injuries suffered, according to premierinjuries.com.
58.6% of injuries to Moyes’ players this season have been to either the calf, groin, or thigh, a jump from 47.6% in those final three seasons at Everton and a big jump from 34.9% in his short spell at Manchester United.
The likely reason for that is a reliance on players whose history shows to be at risk of recurrence and fatigue-related injuries.
The vast majority of days lost for Sunderland this season can be attributed to Victor Anichebe, Steven Pienaar, Jack Rodwell, Billy Jones, Lee Cattermole and Jan Kirchhoff.
They have been unlucky with Cattermole, who had managed 28 appearances in 2014-15 and 34 last season.
Yet the other five have all had muscle problems this season, something which has not been exclusive to this campaign.
For all his superb qualities as a footballer, these problems explain why Sunderland were able to pick up a player of Kirchhoff’s calibre for less than £1 million.
Injuries also explain why Anichebe and Pienaar were without a club during the summer, Tony Pulis alluding to that very clearly before the 2-0 defeat at The Hawthorns last weekend.
Ultimately, Sunderland have left themselves reliant on players who have shone when fit in the past, but have struggled to complete a full season in recent times.
Requiring those players to play regularly, particularly over the busy festive period, was always going to be a gamble. Their luck has certainly been poor, but it is legitimate to ask questions again about their recruitment in recent times.
One thing is for sure, it’s something that can’t afford to happen in the second half of the season. At the moment, it is hurting them badly.