WES Brown could be facing a lengthy lay-off after injuring his knee in Sunderland’s 3-2 win over Dutch club Groningen yesterday.
The centre-half limped gingerly from the field of the Suwon World Cup Stadium after little more than half-an-hour’s play in the Peace Cup’s third-place play-off.
And the initial signs do not look good, suggesting possible ligament damage.
Watching manager Martin O’Neill saw both his centre-halves substituted before half-time – new signing Carlos Cuellar coming off with barely a dozen minutes on the clock.
In addition to those knocks, there are injuries to be considered to Simon Mignolet, David Vaughan and Blair Adams, who were not fit enough to be included in the matchday squad.
It is Brown (pictured), though, who is the main concern.
O’Neill told the Echo: “Wes is the worry. It could be a bad one, but we really don’t know at this stage. You’re told one thing at half-time and another thing at full-time, so, really, it’s too early to tell.
“We’ll probably only find out once we’re home and it settles down, but hopefully it won’t be too bad because he’s an important player for us.”
Cuellar was less of a concern.
“It’s disappointing that he couldn’t get more minutes under his belt, but he felt a tightness in his thigh and did the right thing and came off,” said the manager.
“You don’t want to go risking injury in pre-season and Carlos did the smart thing and came off.”
Mignolet has a thigh strain, Vaughan a groin strain and Adams a hamstring strain.
O’Neill explained: “Simon was precautionary for the game. We’ll assess him when we get home.
“David Vaughan has had a frustrating time of it. He felt his groin and missed the first match, then had an absolutely excellent training session, only for him to feel it again at the end of it.
“As for Blair, he’s a young lad who is eager to impress on pre-season and I think he might have just overdone it a bit and pulled his hamstring.”