With the Wear-Tees Derby on the horizon, fans are rightly concerned as news filters through that Sunderland’s injury list is increasing by the day. Add this to departure of defender Younes Kaboul, and you can forgive fans for being a little nervous ahead of this weekend’s game.
On Friday evening it was announced that central defender Younes Kaboul had left the Black Cats and returned South. He signed for Watford for a fee of £3.5 million. Kaboul only arrived on Wearside last summer after completing a move from Tottenham. He initially struggled for fitness and at times form, but both improved after the appointment of Sam Allardyce.
Lamine Koné was brought in during the January transfer window and he and Kaboul formed an effective defensive partnership. The hope was that the pair would build on the form they showed last year. However, the French defender had desires to move back to the south of England to be with his family.
Manager David Moyes has stated that new signing from Chelsea Papy Djilobodji was brought in as a direct replacement He added though that he thought Kaboul would have been around for a little while longer to give his new signing more time to settle. Djilobodji is now set to start in the heart of the Sunderland defence this Sunday against North East rivals Middlesbrough.
Sunderland’s injury list increasing
Kaboul’s departure could not have come at a worse time for Moyes. The injury list is increasing and several first team players are missing. Lee Cattermole will be out for a further month at least and Seb Larsson won’t be seen until at least Christmas. Full-back Billy Jones and German defensive midfielder Jan Kirchhoff are still recovering from hamstring and hip injuries.
Defender Lamine Koné has been ruled of the upcoming derby with a back injury and forward Fabio Borini faces a race against time to be considered due to a toe injury. With this list growing Sunderland will have to put their faith in new signings and youth for the foreseeable future.
Middlesbrough match preview
Sunderland will have to go with an untested central defensive pairing this Sunday. New signing Papy Djilobodji is expected to start alongside John O’Shea at the heart of the defence. This may cause concern amongst fans and also give Middlesbrough a boost.
Donald Love is expected to keep his place at right-back and Lynden Gooch, who impressed against Manchester City, will be pushing for a starting spot. Northern Ireland international Paddy McNair is also in contention to come into the midfield and is expected to partner Jack Rodwell.
Elsewhere, Adnan Januzaj is expected to start as he looks to prove himself once again under the guidance of David Moyes. On Friday, ex-Everton and Tottenham midfielder Steven Pienaar signed a deal until the end of the season. Although not expected to start, he could feature from the bench.
Middlesbrough have added several quality players to their squad and most should feature. Alvaro Negredo, who netted on debut will be a threat, as could Gaston Ramirez and Jordan Rhodes if selected. They will also have the experience of former Barcelona ‘keeper Victor Valdes. One doubt is £12 million signing Marten de Roon who limped off against Stoke City. Boro secured a point on their Premier League return last week and will be looking to add further points from their visit to Wearside.
It has certainly not been the ideal preparations for the Black Cats heading into this game but Moyes has options. The departure of Kaboul and the injuries to key players will have been a big blow but as the manager has said, “On we go.”
Derbies tend to be tight and tense affairs. However, with players missing and the attacking threat that will be on the pitch, it will be no surprise to see an open game and several goals. All Sunderland fans will be hoping for will be the three points when the final whistle blows.