The Top Ten: SAFC Sicknotes

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It is with a heavy heart that I have to break the news to Sunderland fans that right-back extraordinaire Marcos Angeleri is to be missing until the new year falling foul of yet another knee injury. The would be Jesus Christ has been plagued with injury since his £1.5m signing from Estudiantes last summer and has only figured in three appearances for the Black Cats and even then it could be argued he was on the pitch but didn't really do much - apart from look like the Messiah (no, not Kevin Keegan).

So with Marcos keeping Dr. Glen Rae's medical team busy, I thought what better topic for the Roker Report Top Ten this week to look at the most injury prone players to have graced the club. Injuries are part and parcel of the sport, heck, Sunderland fans know this more than most, especially after last years injury list which must have carried over onto a second sheet of A4 but some player's seem to enjoy the company of the club physio more that most.

Number 10: Craig Gordon

Craig was the most expensive signing of the Roy Keane era and came with a lot of promise following his £9m signing from Hearts in 2007. However despite impressing and frustrating in almost equal measure Gordon's SAFC career to date has been ravaged by injury from the beginning. The Scottish International had established himself as the number one on Wearside before a knee injury in the 2007/08 season saw him miss a number and months before struggling to dislodge Martin Fulop upon his return to action. The 2009/10 season however saw the Scot reclaim his spot between the sticks and everything seemed fine and dandy until a collision with Jermain Defoe at White Hart Lane saw Gordon break his arm and spend another three months out of action. 

Surgery was eventually required to try and remedy continuing problems with Craig's arm and in the pre-season preperations leading up to the 2010/11 season the metal plate was removed. In a typical turn of events that seem to dog Sunderland Gordon was to re-injure the same arm in an innocuous training ground tumble. Gordon would again battle back into the side later that season only to suffer a tendon injury to his knee. Whilst working on putting this ailment right the keeper was still able to warm the bench but the club finally decided surgery was required, putting Gordon out of action for the rest of the season.

With Simon Mignolet and new recruit Keiren Westwood battling for the number one jersey and Craig into the last year of his contract it would appear that the Scot's days on Wearside are numbered.

Number 9: George McCartney

Oh George. The left-back's Sunderland career started with such promise so much so that he was installed as captain following Jason McAteer's injury in the 2003/04 season and went on to be named player of the season in the 2004/05 term. Unfortunately the next year was to see the beginning of Ringo's battle with injuries as he missed a large chuck of the season and Sunderland succumbed to relegation.

Then Wist 'Am manager Alan Pardew engineered a deal involving £500,000 and Clive Clarke for the Northern Ireland International's services despite the left backs injury problems. Still, Pardew obviously got the better end of this deal, I mean Clive Clarke? Seriously? Anyway McCartney would not make his debut for his new club until October of 2006 as he struggled to dislodge Paul Konchesky.

Roy Keane saw fit to splash £6.5m to bring McCartney back to the Stadium of Light in 2008 where he established himself as a first team regular under Keano's tutelage. However, since Bruce was brought in George has suffered from numerous injuries, woeful dips in form and reported off the field problems. It doesn't take a mathematician to add all that together and know there are problems. Ringo has since spent time away from the SOL with Leeds United and returned to West Ham this year.

Number 8: Tony Coton

As Captain Fishpaste has alluded to previously, I do have a bit of a soft spot for goalkeepers. Needless to say I can remember thinking that his signing back in 1996 for around £600,000 from Manchester United was a decent bit of business and his experience would serve us well. Coton had also worked with Peter Reid previously at Manchester City.

Unfortunately Tony's time on Wearside was nothing short of an absolute injury ravaged nightmare. Despite starting well and looking very solid as the new number one at Roker Park, a game against Southampton would see the big fella break his leg in not one, not two, not even three of four but FIVE places. Essentially Coton's playing career was over.

Normally such an injury would not make such a list but it was the saga that followed that I believe makes it worth a place on the list. It almost became part and parcel of the BBC documentary "Premier Passions" for the cameras to check in on Tony's progress in his battle to try and overcome his horrific injury. A battle the keeper never really stood a chance of winning. Coton was far from impressed with SAFC's treatment and even tried to sue the club in 1998 whilst being employed as the club's reserve team coach.

Number 7: Stephen Wright

As an initial £1.5m signing from Liverpool, the fee would eventually rise to £3m, in 2002, Wright was installed as first choice right-back ahead of Bernt Haas who had been moved out on loan. The scouser originally impressed the Sunderland faithful however his form would suffer as Sunderland struggled that season and ultimately suffered relegation. The 2004/05 season was much more fruitful for the fullback as he won back the fans which had been so critical the previous term. 

The 2005/06 season saw SAFC return to the Premier League, however the season was barely one game old when Wright was hit with a serious knee injury which would put him out of action for six months. Stephen would battle his way back to fitness only to be rewarded with a red card in his first game back to first team action. Wright would then go on to pick up an ankle injury during training that would eventually require surgery and end his season. 

The start of the 2006/07 season couldn't have started any worse for Wright as midfielder Rory Delap was preferred as a makeshift right-back. Even when he managed to win back his starting slot Wright would only last three games before being ruled out by injury yet again. The additions of Nyron Nosworthy and Danny Simpson effectively killed Wright's SAFC career.

Number 6: Claudio Reyna

The classy United States midfielder was a £4m signing for Sunderland in 2001 from Rangers and spent an injury hit two years at the Stadium of Light. The talismatic midfielder's Wearside career was to be rocked by serious knee ligament injuries in both of his seasons with the black cats.

It was a huge shame for all concerned as Reyna looked to have all the attributes to be a top player for Sunderland, a dynamic and hard working midfielder that was able to impose himself on the game and really pull the strings.

Reyna never really recovered from his injuries on Wearside and only managed 28 appearances before moving to Manchester City in 2003 and his injury hoodoo followed the popular midfielder.

Number 5: Teemu Tainio

Tainio joined Sunderland from Spurs in 2008 and was the first of three players to make the switch from White Hart Lane to the Stadium of Light with Pascal Chimbonda and Steed Malbranque to follow the Finnish midfielder. Teemu's experience, quality and versatility made him, on paper at least, a valuable acquisition by Roy Keane. 

It is hard to pinpoint one single injury that ruined Tainio's stay on Wearside, it was more the seemingly endless run of niggling injuries that restricted the talented defensive midfielder to just 21 appearances. Teemu's inability to keep fit for any kind of prolonged period and Sunderland's further recruitment in Tainio's position led the club and the player to come to a mutual agreement and his contract was terminated in 2010.

Tainio has gone on to play in the MLS for the New York Red Bulls and seems to have but his injury hell behind him and has already notched up as many appearances in the States as he did on Wearside in his debut season for his new side.

Number 4: Colin Healy

Colin was a free signing from Celtic in 2003 and looked to become a key figure in Sunderland's promotion push. However the midfielder was on the receiving end of a nasty tackle from Coventry's Youssef Safri, a reckless challenge which left Healy with a badly broken leg. 

Healy would be out on the sidelines for 11 long months receiving treatment and rehabilitation only to go and break the same leg in training having just returned to the fold, an unbelievable stroke of bad luck. Not content with just the broken leg Healy would go on to suffer further heartbreak as his knee collapsed. Few believed Healy would ever play again, Sunderland included as his contract was allowed to end. 

The midfielder has however gone on to play for a number of clubs and currently finds himself at Ipswich Town.

Number 3: John Mensah

John Mensah's attributes make him one of the best defenders around. Unfortunately Mensah's injury record restricts the big Ghanaian's opportunities to prove his worth. Mensah joined Sunderland on loan from Lyon in the summer of 2009. Bruce was keen for his new signing to be the rock around which his back four was built however an ongoing recurrence of a calf injury hampered his first team opportunities. 

Despite obvious fitness and injury problems Sunderland were keen to take John on loan for a further season and Lyon agreed to the deal. Mensah however continued his injury jinx on Wearside with a hamstring injury on the opening day of the 2010/11 season. Mensah may have been built like the proverbial brick out-house, but in truth he was more like a greenhouse and fan's began to question his worth to the side as the Ghanaian struggled to put together any run of games. 

Mensah would go on to suffer a number of niggling injuries last term including a dislocated shoulder, a key example of the wide range of injuries the centre back seemed to attract, a bit like Greggs and fat lasses.

Number 2: Kieron Brady

Kieron's footballing career, not just SAFC career is one that was tragically cut short due to injury before he had really got going. Brady was widely respected as a great talent that was expected to go on to great things throughout his his career. Sunderland fans unfortunately only saw the talented midfielder in flashes over his four year stint at Roker Park. 

An extremely rare vascular condition was discovered following complaints of leg pains by the creative, attack minded midfielder and he was forced to retire at the young age of 22. 

In a turn of events reminiscent of Tony Coton, Brady took his case to court, claiming the club failed to diagnose and treat his complaints of leg pains and that the delay was a major contributing factor in the injury reaching a stage which forced his retirement. Brady has since formed the Celebrate Identity Challenge Intolerance Equality and Diversity training group and has backed the Justin Campaign to raise awareness of homophobia in the sport.

Number 1: Matty Piper

Matty Piper. If you blinked at some point in the early years of the new millennium you may have missed him. Piper was a £3.5m signing from Leicester City in 2002, a club at which the winger at least managed to make a name for himself by scoring the last competitive goal at Filbert Street.

Piper's Sunderland career started well and he was to impress in brief flashes showing his pace and direct style of play. However his career was to be just that, brief flashes. Matt suffered injury after injury whilst on Wearside and they weren't just niggles, they were all serious knocks. In fact Piper managed to find himself under the knife no less than ten times in three years. Yes, TEN! 

Further investigation would show that Matt suffered from a rare and previously un-diagnosed debilitating condition in his knee. Needless to say Piper didn't figure much for Sunderland, 29 appearance that were made up of 15 starts for the winger in his three and a half year stint with the club. Matt's contract was cancelled by mutual consent in January of 2006

Agree with our choices? Lets be honest there are plenty to choose from given SAFC's injury plagued past! Add your suggestions in the comments and cast your vote for your favourite in the poll!

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