Sunderland midfielder Darron Gibson is facing up to 10 weeks on the sidelines as he waits to discover whether he will need groin surgery.
Manager Chris Coleman revealed after Monday’s 1-0 Sky Bet Championship defeat by Barnsley that the Republic of Ireland international had aggravated a persistent problem and could be out for some time, and his fears have now been confirmed by a scan.
Coleman told a press conference: “He’s low, he’s down because in the way we want to play, he’s been key, really, and he was definitely grasping what we need from the holding midfielder in the formation we want to go with.
“Now we’ve lost him for eight weeks, 10 weeks possibly, and that’s a big blow. It’s a tough one.
“We are going to get one more opinion – we have had two and we are going to get one more opinion just to make sure, but we think it’s going probably eight to 10 weeks he’s going to be unavailable, which is a huge blow for us.
“There’s a little bit of doubt whether it’s completely off the bone, so we need that third opinion to make sure we get it right and then we can say, ‘Right, if it is, then it’s surgery and it’s eight weeks or whatever, and if it’s not quite off the bone, then maybe we could get him back a little bit quicker.”
The news will come as a blow not only to the club, but to the 30-year-old former Manchester United and Everton player, who was enjoying perhaps his best run for the club when misfortune struck.
Coleman also has doubts over midfielders Paddy McNair and Aiden McGeady for Saturday’s FA Cup third-round trip to Middlesbrough, while Lee Cattermole, Didier Ndong, Jack Rodwell, Jonny Williams and Lynden Gooch have already been ruled out.