David Moyes has confirmed his Sunderland side will have to do without Victor Anichebe for a little while longer ahead of this weekend’s meeting with Stoke City on Wearside.
The striker was forced off against Burnley last month with a hamstring injury, and Moyes confirmed today Sunderland will be missing the Nigerian for the third game running.
It’s been no coincidence our upturn in fortunes has come since the former Everton and West Brom man was introduced to the side, and Sunderland have looked poorer without him.
Adnan Januzaj filled the role in his absence, and will continue to do so given the lack of alternatives at Moyes’ disposal.
The Manchester United loanee has been heavily linked with a move to Lyon, with the suggestion his time on Wearside could be cut short.
As the Chronicle reported earlier this week, Manchester United would be unable to force that through, meaning it’s business as usual for the Belgian.
In fact, it seems business as usual across the park for Sunderland this week.
Dider Ndong, Wahbi Khazri and Lamine Kone’s continued absence for the African Cup of Nations, on top of the mountain of injured players, means Moyes doesn’t have much room to manoeuvre in his starting eleven.
Look no further than his substitutes bench in the last two outings.
Josh Maja, George Honeyman and Elliott Embleton have featured both times, with Michael Ledger, Ethan Robson and Joel Asoro also appearing.
Moyes’ failure to use any of them in the Burnley draw didn’t go down to well, but sooner or later his hand may be forced.
We’ve already lost one of the first-teamers from the bench against Liverpool, with Khazri jetting off with Tunisia.
The only boost to his numbers comes in the form of Billy Jones, who Moyes suggested could return “with a bit of luck”.
His inclusion would be at Manquillo’s expense, while the only other realistic change would be Jason Denayer resuming his midfield role, having spent the Burnley game at centre-back alongside Papy Djilobodji.
That would see John O’Shea returning to the side in place of Donald Love.
The only other injury update offered by Moyes was that Jordan Pickford’s injury might not keep the stopper out for as long as first feared. Moyes said:
“Jordan will hopefully be back sooner than we originally thought, but obviously we have to go by what the doctors and the surgeons say as well.
“He didn’t have surgery which is good and he’s been saying to me he feels good, so hopefully it’ll maybe be another three to four weeks.”