Sunderland hopeful of defensive boost ahead of ‘massive’ QPR clash

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Sunderland skipper John O’Shea remains hopeful that he will be able to play against QPR on Saturday to help ease Chris Coleman’s injury crisis.

O’Shea was subbed at half-time in Tuesday’s 3-0 thrashing by Aston Villa after suffering a heavy knock to the top of his leg.

With Jake Clarke-Salter serving the final game of a three-game ban and Ty Browning expected to miss the Loftus Road trip with a knee problem picked up against Villa, boss Coleman is sweating on the fitness of skipper O’Shea, with Lamine Kone currently the only other recognised fit centre-half.

Full-back Billy Jones came on for Browning against Villa as a straight swap in central defence, Jones – like the rest of the defence – enduring an evening to forget at the Stadium of Light.

Coleman is hoping O’Shea is available to face QPR. “We’ll wait and see,” said O’Shea on his injury.

“I was seeing if I could run it off and the next thing Tyias goes down so it was just one of those things.

“It’s sore at the minute, but, fingers crossed, I’ll have a chance for Saturday.

“I’ll see how my leg is.

“We’re picking up little niggles and knocks, but character’s needed now to get the wins. If we can get that, we have a chance.”

O’Shea admits it is “tough” going for Sunderland, who travel to London for a second successive Saturday. The Black Cats are currently four points adrift of safety with just 10 games of the Championship campaign to play.

The experienced Republic of Ireland international said: “We don’t want to be where we are, but we are and we have to face that quickly and find the momentum, digging it out together somehow from somewhere, whether that be whatever team is selected.

“Whatever team is fit and available, and if we do that, we’ll give ourselves some chance. Until we do that, it’s not looking good at the moment. We can’t look to Preston (next week). QPR is, like they all are, massive.”