Sunderland suffer another defensive blow but promotion hopes boosted by 1-0 win over Swindon Town
Lee Johnson fears that Conor McLaughlin could be facing another spell on the sidelines as he continues his recovery from a hernia operation.
McLaughlin’s experience and versatility has been crucial in recent weeks as Johnson battles an injury crisis in defence, and he was a notable absentee on Tuesday night.
Max Power was forced to step into the right of the back three as Sunderland ground out a vital win against Swindon Town.
The defender is set to have an injection and the Black Cats will continue to monitor his progress.
Sunderland also have an injury concern over Lynden Gooch, who came off in the second half with a calf problem.
“Conor needs an injection on the back of the hernia operation he had,” Johnson said.
“He's just having a bit of pain so it's more than likely he'll be out again.
“Goochy just felt his calf, so hopefully that won't be too bad.
“I've said to the U23s, there are four spots available for Wembley when you add the three lads that we have cup tied, if that's not a carrot for them then I don't know what is.”
Johnson also said that Grant Leadbitter will see a specialist on Wednesday to determine the extent of the damage done to his dislocated shoulder.
The experienced midfielder has told his Head Coach that he is willing to battle through the pain barrier, but no decisions on a comeback will be made until the specialist has delivered his verdict.
“We'll find out on Wednesday when he sees the specialist,” Johnson said.
“It was a bad one but he's quite strong minded in that he wants to be able to do what he can and get back as quick as possible and risk it, but we'll have to see.”
Johnson will hope that his injury issues begin to clear next week, when Bailey Wright is set to return.
Tom Flanagan and Ross Stewart suffered minor setbacks last week but Johnson has remained hopeful that they will soon be available.
It means that he will almost certainly be again forced to field players out of position against Rochdale on Saturday.