When Sunderland's five injured players could return - including Ross Stewart, Dennis Cirkin and Dan Ballard
Sunderland are dealing with multiple injury setbacks just eight games into the new Championship campaign – but when can they expect some of their key players to return?
While it isn’t clear exactly when some members of the squad will be available again, the severity of their injuries has provided a rough estimation about how long they’ll be sidelined for.
Here are a list of players who are currently unavailable for Black Cats boss Tony Mowbray:
Dennis Cirkin – Hamstring
The defender was forced off in the second half of Sunderland’s 1-0 defeat at Middlesbrough, yet Cirkin isn’t expected to be sidelined long term.
Mowbray described the setback as a ‘mild injury’ but said the 20-year-old is unlikely to be risked for next week’s games at Reading and Watford.
Cirkin should then be available after the upcoming international break.
Possible return date: October 1 vs Preston
Edouard Michut – Muscle strain
Mowbray has said Sunderland need to be patient with their new signings, many of whom are adapting to life in a new country.
Michut, 19, joined the Black Cats from PSG last month but didn’t take part in an in-house friendly match this week, due to a minor injury.
That issue should have healed after the international break, yet Michut’s availability will depend on whether Mowbray feels he’s ready.
“I think the first couple of days of training was probably a bit more intense than what he's been used too recently,” said the Sunderland boss. “He didn't play and is probably a week or two behind the others.”
Possible return date: October 1 vs Preston – maybe later depending on fitness
Ross Stewart – Thigh
The scans have suggested Stewart will be sidelined for ‘six to eight weeks,’ yet that will depend on the player’s rehab.
That means Stewart is set to be sidelined until at least the middle of October, when he will probably need time to get back up to speed.
Eight weeks would take us to the start of November, when Sunderland have just three more fixtures before this Winter’s World Cup - when Championship fixtures will stop for four weeks.
Possible return date: November 2 vs Huddersfield
Daniel Ballard – Fractured foot
Sunderland’s summer signing could hardly put weight on his right leg when he left the field during the Black Cats’ match against QPR last month.
Scans then revealed the defender had fractured his foot and that he’d be sidelined for the ‘foreseeable future.’
It seems unlikely the 22-year-old will be available before the World Cup break in November.
Possible return date: December 10 vs West Brom
Niall Huggins – Stress fracture in both heels
It’s almost a year since the full-back last played a competitive match following multiple setbacks.
Huggins, 21, had made a promising start to his Sunderland career before suffering a stress fracture in his back, and then experiencing the same injury in both of his heels as he began a comeback.
The defender travelled to Portugal with the Sunderland squad in pre-season but was working with the physios on an individual rehab programme, rather than training with the rest of the group.
Possible return date: Unknown