SUNDERLAND are continuing to assess the extent of the shoulder damage suffered by Patrick van Aanholt at Crystal Palace.
But the likelihood is that the Dutch international faces at least a month on the sidelines as a result of the dislocated shoulder which saw him stretchered off at Selhurst Park.
The 24-year-old’s shoulder was slotted back into its socket at a London hospital last night, before he flew home with the rest of the Sunderland party.
But the severity of the damage to the ligaments is still being assessed by Sunderland’s medical team, although striker Steven Fletcher was out for a month when he suffered a similar injury at West Brom last season.
The loss of van Aanholt is a blow to Gus Poyet, with the £1.5million summer signing ever-present in the Premier League this season and emerging as one of Sunderland’s most consistent performers.
New boy Anthony Reveillere filled in at left-back at Crystal Palace after van Aanholt’s injury, with Santiago Vergini moving to right-back.
And with full-back Billy Jones still on the treatment table with a hamstring problem, head coach Poyet is likely to stick with that back four for Sunday’s visit of Everton.
The only other left-back on Sunderland’s books is promising Under-21 defender Tom Robson, who trained with the first-team squad last week.
Robson may earn a place on the bench against the Toffees, with Sunderland’s threadbare square further hampered by the one-match suspension for Lee Cattermole.
However, midfielder Jack Rodwell is expected to be available to face his former club after missing the Palace game with a minor calf injury.
Rodwell is due to return to training tomorrow, although the £10m man may have to take a place on the bench against Everton after his replacement Jordi Gomez netted Sunderland’s second goal at Palace.
Poyet said: “Jack was just a little bit of a calf issue, but I have been promised that tomorrow he is training with us so I’m looking forward to seeing him.”