PHIL Bardsley is set for a scan which could rule him out of Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby.
The full-back has pulled out of Scotland’s friendly in Slovenia tomorrow with a calf injury.
Although Martin O’Neill has been at pains to play down Sunday’s trip to St James’ Park, Sunderland will not want to make it without one of their key performers.
Some reports described Bardsley’s injury as a “suspected tear.”
The Scottish FA explained he had withdrawn as a “precaution” after reporting complaining of “tightness” in the muscle. The latter sounds like a classic “international injury” of the sort which tends to occur in the build-up to a friendly and heals remarkably quickly after.
Bardsley was sent home having reported for duty after Saturday’s 4-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion.
He will be back at the Academy of Light for treatment today. If the problem is a tear, however, Bardsley can expect to be out for some time.
His absence in the Tyne-Wear derby would force a defensive reshuffle with no natural right-back in reserve.
Ahmed Elmohamady could play there, but the Egyptian has been used as no more than a late substitute since O’Neill took over as manager.
Besides, he will have the effects of a flight from his homeland to recover from first.
With Matthew Kilgallon fit again, John O’Shea could move to right-back if O’Neill is prepared to break up a central defensive partnership which has been in place for the previous six, largely successful, matches.