Lincoln City hit by major injury concerns to key players ahead of crucial Sunderland clash
Lincoln City have been rocked by the news that influential striker Tom Hopper is set to be sidelined for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury.
Michael Appleton is also sweating over the fitness of both his key centre-halves ahead of the visit to Sunderland on Saturday afternoon.
Hopper has made 40 appearances for Lincoln this season but faces a race against time to play any further part in the push for automatic promotion.
"It isn't particularly good news," Appleton said.
"He had his scan last night and it's going to be a six-to-eight-week job.
"It probably looks like his season's done."
Both Adam Jackson and Lewis Montsma missed training on Thursday, with Appleton previously stating that Jackson would have to come out of the side at some stage due to an ongoing calf concern.
Montsma has been a particularly key figure this season, scoring eight goals.
"They were struggling a little bit yesterday and didn't train," Appleton told Lincolnshire Live.
"I'm hoping and praying that they're okay for today and available for tomorrow. If not, we might be in a little bit of trouble."
Lincoln have lost their last two games in League One having already lost key defender Joe Walsh and influential midfielder Jorge Grant to injury.
Their indifferent form has seen Sunderland leapfrog them in the table ahead of this clash, but Appleton insists his team's form will soon turn.
"The lads are fine,” he said.
"In football for me, it’s all about the next game.
“We weren’t going over the top when we were winning every week, no-one was getting carried away with themselves," he added.
"We were enjoying that moment and rightly so, because the performances were good.
“If you take the last four games, three of the performances have been pretty good, yet we’ve only taken four points from them.
"Over a period of time, that will change.
“Everyone will be expecting Sunderland to turn us over.
“We’ll go up there and enjoy it. No-one is expecting us to win, everyone is expecting us to lose. Maybe we’ll surprise one or two.”