Sunderland have received a notable injury setback ahead of Saturday’s pivotal League One final day clash with Morecambe…
What’s the word?
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Black Cats manager Alex Neil revealed that the injury to defender Carl Winchester may be worse than first feared, with the 29-year-old set for a longer stint on the treatment table.
Asked about the fitness of the Northern Irishman – who was forced off early in the 5-1 win over Cambridge last week – the former Preston North End boss said: “It’s not particularly good news on that one, it’s certainly looking like weeks rather than days”.
The 40-year-old did reveal that young Denis Cirkin is “not far away” from a return to action, although it remains to be seen if the youngster will be fit in time for this weekend’s trip to Lancashire.
Huge blow for Sunderland
This latest news will surely come as a real blow to all concerned, with the versatile Winchester having been a huge asset for the Black Cats so far this season, with the ex-Forest Green man having made 45 appearances in all competitions thus far.
His absence comes at precisely the wrong time for the promotion-chasing outfit, with it all still to play for heading into the final day of the League One campaign. The Stadium of Light club are still not certain of a place in the top six, despite being fifth in the table at present.
Even if they can secure their place in those much-coveted spots by the close of play on Saturday – with a win guaranteeing them a play-off berth – not having the Belfast-born ace in tow for those post-season games could also prove costly, with the Sunderland fanbase desperate to avoid a fifth successive campaign in the third tier.
Prior to his recent injury, the former Cheltenham Town man had been a reliable presence for the club, averaging a solid 6.80 Sofascore average match rating in the league, while also registering 1.4 clearances, two tackles and one interception per game.
Typically lining up in a right-back role, the £3.4k-per-week Winchester may have only chipped in with three goals and one assist so far this term, although has already become something of a “cult hero” due to his committed approach, according to journalist James Copley.
Former Sunderland boss Lee Johnson – who signed him on a free transfer in January 2021 – also dubbed him a “really good piece of business”, with his successor surely praying that the 29-year-old can be involved again in the coming weeks, should all go to plan against the relegation-threatened Shrimps.
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