WES Brown’s absence will be measured in weeks rather than months, much to the relief of Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill.
The Black Cats’ boss has been buoyed by news that the injury to the key defender (left)is not as bad as first feared when he first limped in off in the early stages of Sunderland’s game against Groningen last Sunday.
And he told the Echo after last night’s 1-0 pre-season defeat at Hartlepool: “We’ve had really decent news on Wes. They’ve done two sets of scans and tests and x-rays on Wes and there doesn’t seem to be anything broken, which was a real worry for us at the time.
“And I know that he’s feeling better both physically and psychologically and we now know that he will be out for a lot less time than we first feared when it happened.”
Sunderland had feared they might be without the former Manchester United defender for much of 2012 with an operation being potentially needed.
But now the feeling is that it might take just weeks for the tissue damage to heal, allowing Brown to begin work on his comeback.
O’Neill confirmed: “The word was drifting around the dressing room when it happened that it could be a broken bone but we really weren’t sure.
“It would have been terrible news, for us and for him, if it had been the case because he can be such an important player when he’s fully fit and in form.
“But now that the results show no serious damage he can start focus on just gently recuperating and looking to step back into things in the weeks ahead.”