MICHAEL Turner insists Sunderland will be able to cope without talisman Lee Cattermole, who has been slapped with a four-match ban for his derby-day indiscipline.
The Black Cats captain picked up a first-minute booking for a wild tackle on Cheick Tiote before being shown a straight red card for foul and abusive language towards referee Mike Dean after the final whistle.
The club have confirmed Cattermole (pictured left) is now out of action until Sunderland’s visit to Manchester City on March 31.
That run of games includes the FA Cup fourth-round trip to Everton – a game tephane Sessegnon also misses after being handed a three-match ban for being sent off in the second half of Sunday’s tempestuous derby clash.
Sunderland have options in reserve with Jack Colback having stepped up a gear since Martin O’Neill’s appointment.
However, Cattermole’s form of late has been such his omission will be keenly felt by the Wearsiders.
Sessegnon, too, has been in fine form although, with England striker Fraizer Campbell back to full fitness, the Black Cats do have a ready-made replacement.
Plus, striker Nicklas Bendtner delivered one of the most tireless performances of his inconsistent loan spell so far on Sunday at St James’ Park.
Turner acknowledges it is far from ideal to be missing two key players for such important fixtures, but is adamant Sunderland have replacements in reserve who can push them closer to Wembley.
The defender said: “It is bad news we will miss them both.
“They are key players in our team so someone will have to come in and fill their boots.