Sunderland are back in Championship action this weekend, but they may have to make do without an important player, following an injury update from reliable journalist James Hunter.
Sunderland injury news
The Black Cats have had a break from domestic duties because of the final international break of the year getting in the way, but they return to action with a trip to Plymouth Argyle on Saturday afternoon. Tony Mowbray’s side ran out 3-1 winners at home to Birmingham City in their most recent outing, once again strengthening their promotion hopes and meaning they are sixth in the Championship table, as things stand.
While there is a lot to feel positive about for Sunderland fans at the moment, Mowbray is also having to tackle certain injury problems to key players, which has the potential to hold his team back. For example, Dennis Cirkin suffered an injury in the warm-up before the victory over Birmingham, and the likes of Corry Evans, Jay Matete and Bradley Dack have been long-term absentees for the Black Cats.
Mowbray will be hoping to have as many players as possible to call upon for the long trip south to Plymouth, but a new update claims another player may have a new setback.
Sunderland suffer Dan Ballard blow
According to an update from Hunter for The Chronicle, Dan Ballard is a fresh injury worry for Sunderland, having picked up a hamstring issue on international duty with Northern Ireland.
“Sunderland have a new injury concern ahead of this weekend’s trip to Plymouth with defender Dan Ballard picking up a problem while away on international duty.
“Ballard played the full 90 minutes of Northern Ireland’s 4-0 Euro 2024 qualfying defeat against Finland in Helsinki on Friday night, but boss Michael O’Neill has since said the 24-year-old suffered a hamstring issue.”
Ballard ended up playing no part in Northern Ireland’s 2-0 win over Denmark on Monday evening, further suggesting that his injury could be a bad one. This is a massive concern for Sunderland ahead of the festive fixtures, with Ballard an undisputed key man at the heart of the defence so far this season, playing a big role in his side sitting in the playoff places.
The Black Cats hero has started 15 of their 16 league games in 2023/24 to date, and he has won 2.5 aerial duels per match in that time, as well as completing 90.5% of his passes. He has also chipped in with a whopping 3.9 clearances per match, and has scored twice for good measure.
Dan Ballard this season
Average per game
Aerial duels won
Hamstring injuries can always be awkward ones to come back from quickly, depending on the severity of them, and the fact that Ballard didn’t feature at all for Northern Ireland on Monday doesn’t bode well. The 24-year-old has been hailed as a “diamond” of a player by Mowbray, which says a lot about how highly his manager rates him, and if he ends up being absent for a significant period of time, it could have a huge impact on Sunderland’s promotion push.