- Premier League
Sunderland lose Fletcher to injury
Sunderland have been dealt a significant blow with the news that striker Steven Fletcher has suffered ankle ligament damage.
Fletcher, 25, was stretchered off during the early stages of Scotland's World Cup qualifier against Wales on Friday night after landing awkwardly.
Although earlier scans had revealed there was no break, the former Wolves man will now miss between four and six weeks of the season after receiving confirmation of ligament damage. Should his ankle require surgery it would also likely rule Fletcher out for the rest of the campaign.
That would leave Sunderland's top scorer unable to make an impact, with the club hovering precariously above the relegation zone. Currently just four points clear of safety, the Black Cats are bottom of the form table without a win in seven games.
Sunderland also face a string of difficult fixtures this month, including visits from Manchester United and Everton as well as trips to both Chelsea and Newcastle.
Fletcher's absence will now hand an added responsibility to Danny Graham - a £5 million January signing from Swansea. The 27-year-old is yet to score his first goal for the club, despite arriving on Wearside having netted four goals in his last four games for the Swans.
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill will also have Connor Wickham to call on, while he may also look to implement Mikael Mandron in the matchday squad after the youngster was included in first-team training this week.
Mandron, 18, was recently offered a new deal at the Black Cats, and is seen as one of the club's most exciting youth prospects.