SUNDERLAND will have to wait another 24 hours before they discover the full extent of Wes Brown’s potentially serious knee injury.
The veteran defender’s cause wasn’t helped by the fact he spent 15 hours in the air while travelling home from South Korea, where his team played two games in the Peace Cup, which was the last thing he needed after suffering what is suspected to be ligament damage.
Brown has been able to walk around fairly freely since hurting his knee on Sunday and was said to be in not too much obvious pain on the long journey back to the UK.
But he did need to use crutches to aid him as the Sunderland squad made it home, via a stop in Dubai, with the team eventually landing at Newcastle Airport at 1pm yesterday; the best part of 24 hours after leaving their hotel in the Far East.
Sunderland’s doctors will only be able to make a proper diagnosis once the swelling goes down and only then can the former Manchester United man undergo a thorough scan.
Brown missed half of last season through injury and was looking fresh in pre-season training, only to badly hurt his knee early on during Sunderland’s game with Groningen in South Korea. If he has to undergo an operation, which at the moment is the most realistic option, then he could be looking at spending months, rather than weeks, on the sidelines.
Sunderland boss O’Neill will then decide whether to stick with the defenders already at the club, or bring in one more as cover for the former England international.
The club’s tour to Korea was far more successful for rookie goalkeeper Ben Wilson, who made his first-team debut.
The 19-year-old, who spent time on loan at Gateshead last season, played for over an hour against Dutch Eredivisie side Groningen, standing in for first-choice Simon Mignolet, who complained of a slight groin strain that kept him out of the Peace Cup third-place play-off.
Sunderland won the match 3-2 and, speaking on the Wearside club’s website, Wilson spoke of his delight at being given his unexpected chance by Black Cats boss O’Neill.
He said: “I really enjoyed it out there. It was amazing to make my debut and anyone who manages to make a debut for Sunderland Football Club can’t complain.
“Getting out there was absolutely brilliant. I took a good catch at my back post early on, which really helped me.
“I’m so excited to have made my debut – I’ll be telling my parents all about it when I get back and they will be over the moon.”
LUCAS Moura’s agent has claimed a proposed move to Manchester United will not go through unless Sir Alex Ferguson meets Sao Paulo’s asking price.
The Scot confirmed his interest in the 19-year-old winger in Shanghai this week, but denied claims that the two clubs had reached agreement over a £26million transfer.
Now the player’s agent, Wagner Ribeiro, has warned the Red Devils they have little chance of prising the teenager away from South America unless they match Sao Paulo’s valuation, which is significantly higher.
Ribeiro said: “They have reached their limit, they will not offer anything more. He will not leave. He is happy in Sao Paulo. This matter has to be terminated, there is no possibility of him leaving now.”