SUNDERLAND are facing a fresh injury crisis after yesterday’s defeat to Liverpool saw FIVE players injured.
On-loan Sulley Muntari (calf) and fellow midfielder Kieran Richardson (hamstring) were both substituted before half-time at the Stadium of Light yesterday, while full-backs Phil Bardsley (knee) and Anton Ferdinand (ankle) barely made it to the end of the game.
On top of that, manager Steve Bruce revealed that red-carded defender John Mensah has to be considered a major doubt for next week’s Wembley friendly international between England and Ghana after aggravating a strain.
Muntari must also be a doubt.
Bardsley is likely to miss Scotland’s bonding trip to La Manga and this weekend’s glamour friendly against Brazil in London.
Sunderland will today assess the injuries, though a hamstring injury could keep Richardson out for at least three weeks.
The dejected Sunderland boss, enduring a third successive home defeat, said: “We’ve had no luck at all with injuries on the day and it’s frustrating because just as we think we’re all singing and all dancing again on the injury front, we’ve lost a bundle again.
“To lose two players before the half-way point of the first half was something we just couldn’t have legislated for and it has to have an effect on you, though I thought we handled things up until the officials’ mistake for the penalty that was given just after the half-hour.”
Bruce added: “Phil will have a scan in the morning on his knee. Muntari’s is a calf injury and Richardson’s is a hamstring.
“That is a frustration for me because just as we think we are all singing and dancing again, we have lost two who have been mainstays over the last few weeks. It’s frustrating.
“I will have a conversation with Stuart Pearce over Danny Welbeck and the Under-21s. I did have a conversation with Stuart, who was only going to play him in one game anyway.
“I am sure he will be sensible enough with him.
“We have made a call to the Scottish FA – I can’t see Phil joining up. I can’t see Muntari joining up with Ghana, but until we have scans and get results we can’t be sure. They have got to report these days to their own FAs, but I would have thought they would all be extremely doubtful.”
Bruce was boosted by the return of several players from varying lengths out with injury.
On-loan striker Danny Welbeck played an hour in what was his first starting appearance since the opening week of 2011, while midfielder Lee Cattermole replaced the injured Muntari and played well over an hour of the Liverpool match.
In addition, Bolo Zenden and Nedum Onuoha were fit to return, though both had to be content with a place on the bench.
What will concern Bruce is the length of time the fresh injuries will take to heal – even given the fact that Sunderland have a fortnight before they’re in action again, when they take on Manchester City at the start of next month.
He said: “We’ll just have to wait and see.
“Anton’s doesn’t look too bad and my gut instinct is that he’ll be OK.
“But, as for the rest, we’ll just have to wait and see what the medical reports are.”