WES BROWN is set to miss Sunday’s Wear-Tyne derby, with the veteran Sunderland defender facing several weeks on the sidelines.
Brown lasted just 12 minutes of Dick Advocaat’s opening game in charge against West Ham 10 days ago after he limped off with a knee injury following an awkward landing from a header.
Santiago Vergini is likely to fill in alongside skipper John O’Shea against the Magpies.
The Gazette understands that Brown has not trained since the defeat at Upton Park and is expected to be on the treatment table for several weeks - ruling him out of this weekend’s crunch visit of Newcastle United.
With Brown absent, Santiago Vergini is likely to fill in alongside skipper John O’Shea against the Magpies - as the Argentine did from the bench at Upton Park - and he is the one central defender who has had the chance to work under new boss Advocaat for a sustained spell during the international break.
Vergini has been the only senior centre-half available to Advocaat on the training ground, with Brown absent and both O’Shea and Sebastian Coates away on international duty,
Promising Under-21s defender Tom Beadling, who penned a new two-year contract at Sunderland earlier this season, has been training with the first-team for the last 10 days.
And the 19-year-old - an unused substitute for January’s FA Cup third round win over Leeds - was among the party that travelled to Motherwell last week for a behind-closed-doors friendly.
Brown is not the only injury concern for Advocaat, as he attempts to steer Sunderland to a fifth successive victory over Newcastle United and in turn, improve their desperate position in the relegation dogfight.
Ricky Alvarez missed the West Ham game with a continuation of the knee injury which has plagued him all season, while fellow winger Will Buckley is still recovering from the knee problem which has kept him sidelined since January.
However, Advocaat will be boosted by the return of Lee Cattermole from suspension this weekend, with the midfielder - like Adam Johnson - boosting his match fitness in the Motherwell friendly.