Sunderland set to be without two key players for their next League One game
Sunderland are preparing for the eventuality that they may have to play their next League One game without two key defenders.
Conor McLaughlin and Tom Flanagan – both of whom have been regular members of the backline in recent weeks – have been called-up to the Northern Ireland squad for their Euro 2020 play-off tie against Slovakia.
Their inclusion in the squad means they will miss the Black Cats’ clash with MK Dons in what is their next League One fixture.
And while Sunderland have previously called-off fixtures which have landed during an international window, they may not have that option this time around.
The injury to Kosovan international defenderArbenit Xhemajli means that only Flanagan and McLaughlin are currently set to depart for international duty – leaving the Wearsiders one player short of the three absentees required to call-off the game.
There is still a minor chance that the likes of Bailey Wright or Aiden O’Brien could be handed a call-up, but Sunderland are preparing for the possibility of being without two key defenders for the clash on September 14.
And to that end, Phil Parkinson is keen to manage Jordan Willis’ troublesome injury so that he can play some part against the Dons if required.
Speaking over the weekend, Parkinson said: “Jordan needs an injection at some stage.
“He's OK to carry on [in the meantime] and so we're going to give him that injection after the MK Dons game.
“We're going to lose Tom Flanagan and Conor McLaughlin for that game due to international call-ups, so over the next couple of weeks we're going to manage his training to ensure he is ready for that one.
“He's fine with that decision, it won't affect the knee and the doctor is happy with that.
“The injection is just something which will help him. He'll need to rest the knee for two or three weeks after the injection, so we will do that after the MK Dons game.
“Jordan has been great, there was no need to put him on the bench today and he was fully understanding.
“He'll come back stronger than ever.”