JACK RODWELL has a chance of featuring against Crystal Palace this weekend, despite being ruled out of the Wear-Tyne derby through injury.
Rodwell missed Sunday’s victory over Newcastle with a hamstring problem after the £10million summer signing had started Dick Advocaat’s opening game in charge at West Ham a fortnight earlier.
However, the Gazette understands that Rodwell’s injury is only minor and the 24-year-old’s stint on the treatment table is expected to be a brief one.
Head coach Advocaat will hope that Rodwell recovers sufficiently to return to the squad for Saturday’s visit of rejuvenated Crystal Palace, particularly as fellow midfielder Seb Larsson is absent.
Larsson’s two-game suspension has been confirmed after he picked up his 10th yellow card of the season in the derby, with the Swedish international now missing the Palace game, plus the trip to Stoke a fortnight later.
The 29-year-old had been walking a disciplinary tightrope on nine yellows for a month, but went into referee Mike Dean’s notebook against Newcastle – prior to this weekend’s cut-off point for cumulative bookings.
Rodwell would provide a like-for-like replacement for Larsson in Advocaat’s 4-3-3 set-up, but if both were missing, then the Sunderland boss would be left with limited options.
Liam Bridcutt – yet to feature under Advocaat – is the only other midfielder available in the first-team squad and has been an unused substitute for the last two games.
The other possibility would be to use Adam Johnson in a deeper role. Johnson – who has not started a competitive game in more than a month – did regularly drift into a central midfield position during his run-out for the Under-21s this week.