Sunderland boss remains positive despite blow

Sunderland manager Martin O'NeillSunderland manager Martin O’Neill is trying to stay positive despite losing striker Steven Fletcher for the remainder of the season.

The striker damaged ankle ligaments in the first five minutes of Scotland’s clash with Wales last weekend and is now out for the remainder of the campaign.

He may yet need an operation, depending on how the injury settles down over the next two weeks, but his loss, and that of skipper Lee Cattermole, is a set back they could have done without.

O’Neill told the Echo: “Fletcher’s injury is a blow we could have done without at this stage of the season. I feared the worst when I was watching the game and saw him go down.

“When the stretcher is coming onto the field, you’re just hoping the news will be better than you initially fear.

“It’s not great, but we have to get on with it. His ankle will have to be put in a non-weight bearing plaster for about a fortnight.

“After that, depending on whether it settles down, we’ll see whether he needs an operation or not.”

He added: “One way or another, he misses the rest of the season, which is obviously a blow to us, following on from Lee Cattermole, who had an operation yesterday.

“We’ve had to do without Lee for most of the season anyway, so that kind of news was to be expected. But it’s a blow for Fletcher.”

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