Suspended Didier Ndong will be a huge miss for Sunderland against Chelsea, says David Moyes.
The club’s record signing will sit out the game at the Stadium of Light after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in the 3-0 defeat to Swansea City.
And Moyes admits Sunderland will miss his energy in midfield, especially with livewire Duncan Watmore already out for the season.
“We’ll miss him because he gives us legs – we’ll need players who can do two jobs, not just one,” said Moyes.
“If there is one thing that Didier has got, it’s legs to get between people and up to people, and we will miss that.
“That lack of legs in midfield is something I am a bit worried about.”
Seb Larsson started the defeat at the Liberty Stadium, while Jan Kirchhoff is the leading candidate to replace Ndong but both lack Ndong’s mobility.
Moyes added: “They are both not as mobile as you would want at times but that’s what we’ve got.”
Jermain Defoe is fit but Moyes has new injury concerns, although he was giving little away ahead of the visit of table-toppers Chelsea. Joel Asoro, Josh Maja and George Honeyman could be on the subs bench as a result.
Moyes added: “We’ve got a couple of injuries, but I want to keep them under wraps for the moment – I don’t want to give Chelsea any more idea than they might already have.
“Added to the squad is Maja, Joel Asoro and George Honeyman. They’ll be in and around the squad.”
Moyes is still without Lee Cattermole, Lynden Gooch, Jack Rodwell, Watmore and Paddy McNair. Fabio Borini is again expected to be among the subs.
Moyes added: “He almost came on at Swansea, and he would have come on if they hadn’t scored the third goal.
“He is in my thinking, but I would have liked to have eased him back gently either by bringing him off the bench already, or having given him a reserve team game, but I haven’t been able to do that.
“His fitness level won’t be too bad, but we don’t know where his football level will be and I don’t want players coming in and getting up to speed while they are in the team – I want them to be up to speed before they come into the side so they make a difference and make an impact.
“I’m not just going to bring players off the treatment table and put them straight into the side.”