SUNDERLAND are assessing Wes Brown’s fitness after the veteran defender suffered a worrying injury at West Ham.
Brown was forced off during the opening 15 minutes at Upton Park after landing awkwardly from a header and injuring his knee.
The 35-year-old – out of contract in the summer – limped gingerly from the field after treatment, with Sunderland still unsure of the extent of the damage on what could be a lengthy lay-off for the ex-England international.
“We don’t know how it will be with Brown,” said new Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat.
“For us, he’s an important player.”
Sunderland at least have the fortnight’s international break to treat some of their injured players, prior to the Wear-Tyne derby on Sunday, April 5.
Neither do the Black Cats have a host of players heading away to represent their countries – Costel Pantilimon, John O’Shea, Seb Larsson and Steven Fletcher, the only ones involved on Saturday who will not be at the Academy of Light this week.
Advocaat said: “Some players will go out with the internationals. The others we’ve promised them a couple of days off.
“We’ve got one and a half weeks to practise things. Now we have time to look at positions.”
Advocaat also has Adam Johnson available again after the winger returned to the fold as a substitute against the Hammers.
Johnson missed the games against Hull and Aston Villa after he was suspended by the Black Cats, following his arrest on suspicion of sexual activity with a girl under 16.
Predictably, Johnson was the subject of much media interest on Saturday and received contrasting receptions from the two sets of supporters, with the travelling Sunderland fans singing his name throughout the game.
But Advocaat is happy to have Johnson available again to help Sunderland in their quest to avoid Premier League relegation.
The ex-Holland manager said: “I spoke with him in the week. Life goes on. He did well.
“He is a very good player. I was happy I could bring him on. That is good to know for the game versus Newcastle.”