After Ballard: Sunderland suffer pre-SUFC injury blow that should have Neil frustrated - opinion
What’s the latest?
Black Cats boss Alex Neil has confirmed that defender Carl Winchester will be out of action for an unspecified amount of time due to a back injury.
He told the Shields Gazette: “Unfortunately for us, at the moment, Winny [Winchester] is injured, so he’s out for a little while.
“I think he’s due to see the specialist tomorrow, so we’ll get a better idea of that one then. That’s why, at the moment, he isn’t in contention for a role in the backline.
“It’s a problem with his back and we’ll find out the full extent once he’s seen the specialist.”
This comes after the club confirmed that Daniel Ballard has suffered a fractured foot and will be out for the “foreseeable future”.
Frustration for Neil
The Black Cats boss should be left frustrated by this news as Winchester would have been a solid option to call upon to take the summer signing’s place in the team.
Luke O’Nien came on to play on the right of the back three and Bailey Wright was not brought on until the 88th minute against QPR. That was the latter’s first outing of the campaign and it remains to be seen whether or not he is fit enough to walk back into the XI tonight.
This means that the former could be forced into playing in defence and this takes away a midfield option for Neil against the Blades.
Whereas, Winchester could have slotted into that role with ease and allowed Wright to be on the bench as cover and O’Nien to play in his natural position.
In League One last season, the Northern Irishman started 39 of the club’s matches as he played a vital role in helping the team to reach the playoffs, which allowed them to secure promotion to the Championship, as he averaged a higher SofaScore rating than the likes of Trai Hume, Dennis Cirkin, Callum Doyle, and Niall Huggins.
The versatile gem also started in that role against Sheffield Wednesday in the EFL Cup last week, which suggests that he may have been the manager’s second choice for that area of the pitch.
However, he was then absent for the draw with QPR, leading to the need for O’Nien to step in, and Neil has now confirmed that it will be an extended absence.
This means that the Scot will be without his two natural options in that position until one of them is back. A frustrating blow for the manager indeed.