The last few months have been a tale of woe in terms of injury issues for Sunderland.
On a repeated basis, the Mackems are dealt with some sort of injury problem, but with seven wins from their last nine matches, they have managed to brush the distraction aside.
They did receive some good news this week that Denver Hume is edging closer to a return. He played 45 minutes against Gateshead a few days ago and has trained well.
However, the majority of the news that Lee Johnson shared in his pre-match press conference was negative. He revealed that Jordan Jones only had a 30% chance of being fit for Saturday before announcing that their clash with Bristol Rovers would come too soon for Bailey Wright.
Johnson commented: “Bailey is feeling really good but he is not immediately close to a return.”
However, with the Australian set to miss out again this weekend, it gives Johnson a dilemma. Does the manager finally remove Luke O’Nien from the centre of defence and replace him with Conor McLaughlin or Ollie Younger?
O’Nien has been influential at centre-back for a number of weeks and has been one of the main reasons for those half-a-dozen clean sheets.
That being said, he was out of sorts against Lincoln a week ago. The former Wycombe man made an error in the first half and should have done better for the Imps’ equaliser.
Although O’Nien has filled in admirably, it wouldn’t be a great surprise if he is back in midfield before too long. With Wright and Tom Flanagan moving closer to returns, their comebacks will be crucial in the race for promotion.
At the moment, Sunderland sit in third place but they are just two points behind Peterborough, who make up the final automatic place.