STEPHANE Sessegnon will undergo a scan on his ankle injury tomorrow, with Martin O’Neill admitting the Benin international’s absence is a concern.
Sessegnon missed last night’s pre-season encounter at Derby County and faces a race against time to be ready for Sunderland’s final friendly against Leicester City on Saturday.
Last season’s Player of the Season has not featured at all for Sunderland during pre-season after being given extra leave during the summer following his participation in Benin’s African Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Although O’Neill believes Sessegnon needed a break at the end of last season after appearing in all but three of Sunderland’s games, the Black Cats boss admits the 28-year-old’s preparations are hardly ideal.
O’Neill told the Echo: “Sessegnon pulled out of training the other day and Phil Bardsley has had a bit of a setback with his ankle injury as well.
“We’ll have to assess those two. They’re going for scans tomorrow morning.
“Sessegnon’s obviously an important player for us and it’s a concern. But in the overall scheme of things, it might not be such a bad thing.
“I thought he got tired towards the back end of last season because he had played all the games for us and under a lot of pressure to do well.
“He’s played some games in the summer time and if anybody needed a break it was him. In the long-term, it might not be so bad.
“But in the short-term, I would obviously like him to have some proper football before the season kicks off.”
Sessegnon was not the only injury absentee for Sunderland at Pride Park last night.
David Vaughan (groin) and Wes Brown (ankle) continue their recoveries, while Titus Bramble, Connor Wickham and Matt Kilgallon did not feature despite travelling to the East Midlands.
The latter trio will stay at Sunderland’s base in Derby for the next three days and are likely to return against O’Neill’s former club on Saturday.
O’Neill added: “Titus has got a bit of an Achilles problem. Hopefully it’s not too bad, he says that himself.
“Connor Wickham has got a bit of a sore side from the Helsingborgs game, but I think he should be available for Saturday.
“Kilgallon is feeling much better in himself, he’s got a groin problem.”