Sunderland have been dealt ANOTHER defensive blow after Lamine Kone was ruled out with a back injury.
Sunderland - set to lose Younes Kaboul to Premier League rivals Watford for £3.5million - will also have to do without the Ivory Coast international for the Wear-Tees derby on Sunday lunchtime.
Boss David Moyes has confirmed at his pre-match press conference that Everton target Kone has been ruled out with a back injury.
Papy Djilobodji, signed from Chelsea for £8million, will start against Middlesbrough, with John O'Shea likely to drop back into the back four.
Kaboul’s exit is a major blow to Sunderland, who are also fighting to keep hold of his defensive partner – Lamine Kone.
Their form was a key reason behind the club’s survival last season, with both starting against Manchester City on the opening day of the Premier League season.
Moyes has said he expects Kone to stay at the club this summer after Everton last week lodged an unsuccessful £18million bid for the Ivory Coast international.
Sunderland have been linked with a season-long loan move for his ex-team-mate Matt Miazga.
The 21-year-old American centre-back is not part of the first-team plans at Chelsea.