Younes Kaboul is facing up to two months on the treatment table, to make Sunderland’s need for new defensive recruits even more pressing.
Kaboul missed Boxing Day’s 4-1 defeat at Manchester City with the hamstring injury he had suffered at Chelsea seven days earlier.
The prognosis on the £3million summer signing is far from good, with Kaboul not expected to return to action until the end of February – leaving veteran Wes Brown and youngster Tom Beadling as the only back-ups to central defensive pair John O’Shea and Sebastian Coates.
Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce confirmed: “We’ve lost Younes for six to eight weeks or so.”
Allardyce also has concerns over O’Shea’s involvement in Wednesday night’s visit of Liverpool after the Sunderland skipper received treatment in the latter stages of the loss at the Etihad Stadium.
After Sunderland had used all three substitutes, O’Shea was able to complete the full 90 minutes, but Allardyce can ill-afford to be without the 34-year-old for two pivotal Stadium of Light games inside three days.
“John O’Shea was limping at the end and that makes life more difficult,” added Allardyce.
“If we lose John, Wes has only just come back from a bit of an injury and of course he hasn’t played that much.”
Allardyce will have Jack Rodwell available again for the Liverpool clash though, after the £10million midfielder served a one-match ban against City.
Rodwell will be in contention for a start, as will Lee Cattermole, Duncan Watmore and Jermain Defoe, who were all on the bench at the Etihad.