David Moyes admits Sunderland have lost a young player key to their future plans after Paddy McNair was ruled out for the rest of the season.
The Sunderland boss says he is devastated for the 21-year-old who ruptured anterior cruciate knee ligament in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Hull City.
Moyes, who signed the Northern Ireland midfielder from Manchester United in the summer, had seen him play his part in the vital back-to-back Premier League wins over Bournemouth and Hull.
But the manager says the player’s absence is a blow in the short and long term, given he was beginning to find his feet in the top flight.
“Paddy was starting to understand more about the club, the supporters and also the general game, so it’s a real shame for the boy,” said Moyes.
“He’s really keen to do well and he works really hard at his game to try to improve.
“We’re incredibly disappointed because we want to try to build a young team going forward and Paddy was part of that.
“I think he’d just started to find his way in the Premier League – even though he had experience at Manchester United – and the games he was having were bringing him on and giving him confidence.”
McNair was injured just before half-time against Hull in what looked an innocuous incident.
Given he seemed in agony, it was a surprise he was able to continue.
But he not only soldiered on through the pain, he played a full role in a victory which took the Black Cats off the foot of the table.
Sadly, he took another knock late on and was substituted, former Manchester United pal Donald Love coming on in the dying minutes.
And to add further disappointment to the player, Moyes revealed he may have to wait until next month before having surgery.
“He probably won’t have his operation for over a week because he’s got a cut on his knee,” the boss told www.safc.com.
“They can’t operate while there is an open wound, so we have to wait until that heals, so it might be a week or two.
“We won’t see him again this season and all we can hope is getting him right for the start of next season.”
McNair had made nine Premier League appearances, as well as starts in the team’s three EFL Cup ties, which included two goals in the 2-1 win at QPR.
His absence forces Moyes into making a second change to his winning XI for Saturday’s match at Liverpool, following a one-match ban for Papy Djilobodji.
Steven Pienaar, suspended for the first home league win of the season, is likely to step in for McNair, with John O’Shea the probable replacement for Djilobodji.