Sunderland boss issues Patrick Roberts update and outlines when he's likely to return

Sunderland winger Patrick Roberts has been a big miss in recent weeks
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Michael Beale has confirmed that Patrick Roberts will miss Sunderland's next two fixtures as he continues his recovery.

Roberts suffered a calf injury early in the 1-1 draw with Rotherham United over the festive period, and is relatively close to a return to training. However, he has been ruled out of this weekend's visit of Stoke City and will almost certainly be absent when the Black Cats travel to face Middlesbrough next Sunday. As it stands, he should be able to return for Plymouth Argyle's visit to the Stadium of Light on February 10th. Beale confirmed that the injury situation at the club is otherwise unchanged.

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"Patrick we're hoping will be back in training by the end of next week, possibly the start of the week after," Beale said.

"He's still going to miss the next couple, unfortunately. No change to the injury situation, otherwise."

Sunderland's work to strengthen their squad in the January window remains ongoing, with Kristjaan Speakman confirming on Thursday that numerous bids are currently on the table. One player who has been the subject of interest from the Black Cats is Barnsley midfielder Callum Styles, who can also play as a left wing back. Speculation has intensified this week after Styles was left out of Barnsley's most recent squad, with head coach Neill Collins confirming that they were negotiating with another club.

However, The Echo understands that at this stage, no deal is close to being completed and may well not be before the end of the window. That could of course change quickly.

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"Left back is a clear position for us because we've lost three, haven't we," Beale said.

"It's an issue and an area we'd like to improve in the short term. The other area is clear [up front] and the one that everyone can see - whether we can secure the right player... there's no point bringing someone in who isn't going to improve the team. I'm mindful that we invested in four number nines in the summer, and so far now I have to concentrate on the players we have in the building."