Sunderland are sweating on the scan results of Jordan Pickford’s knee injury - amid fears he could be facing several weeks out.
The 22-year-old injured his right knee in a challenge with Papy Djilobodji and Zlatan Ibrahimovic during the 3-1 Boxing Day defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
National reports claim Pickford is facing anywhere between six to eight weeks out injured but the Echo understands the club is still waiting for a definitive time frame for his absence from the side.
Club medics hope to have confirmation ahead of David Moyes’ Thursday afternoon press conference at the Academy of Light.
Vito Mannone is on standby to come into the side for the New Year’s Eve clash at Burnley.
Pickford’s absence from the side would be a major blow given his impact since getting his chance at the end of August.
But Sunderland are fortunate to have a strong group of goalkeepers, with Mannone having started the season as number one.
The 28-year-old Italian has been chomping at the bit to make his first team return since recovering from the elbow injury that ruled him out for two months.
Mannone was in goal for the 2-1 Premier League defeats to Manchester City and Middlesbrough before going under the surgeon’s knife after rupturing elbow ligaments in training.
Since returning to full fitness, 6ft 2in Mannone has had to make do with a place on the bench in recent months given Pickford’s superb form.
Washington-born Pickford has been one of the star performers, alongside eight-goal top scorer Jermain Defoe.
His form has resulted in widespread interest, with Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal all keeping tabs on Pickford who was called into the main England squad in November by Gareth Southgate.
Summer signing Mika will deputise on the bench during Pickford’s absence from the first team with manager David Moyes’ hands tied regarding recruitment in January after chief executive Martin Bain confirmed earlier this month that transfer business next month will be very limited.