Sunderland goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter will not make it back in time to play before the end of the current campaign and isn’t expected to return to full training until pre-season.
The Dutch stopper - who arrived in the summer following a successful trial after his contract expired with Eredivisie side FC Utrecht - has been out since the start of February after badly dislocating his finger, and although he underwent a procedure to help the injury to heal he’s not going to make it back in time to play before the season ends.
Despite Chris Coleman suggesting initially that the 6”5 ‘keeper “would be out for probably eight to 12 weeks”, the injury was so bad that it is taking longer than expected to heal fully, and instead he’ll not be available for selection for any of Sunderland’s three remaining games.
Ruiter was spotted last month at the Amsterdam Arena talking with Heerenveen head coach Jurgen Streppel ahead of their game with Ajax, and as you can see in the photo below his finger was still heavily strapped in order to protect it from any further damage.
Had he been fit, Ruiter would have most definitely been an automatic choice to start games as the man signed in January to provide him with competition, Lee Camp, has been so incredibly underwhelming that many Sunderland supporters are calling him the worst goalkeeper to have ever played for the club.
Ruiter has a year left to run on his deal following the end of the current season, and unless a deal is struck to release him or an offer for his services comes along, he’ll still be a part of the club come the summer.
But with Camp departing once his loan expires and it being entirely likely that Jason Steele will look to leave once the transfer window rolls around it means that we’ll be left with just two ‘senior’ goalkeepers - the aforementioned Ruiter and Max Stryjek, a player who many supporters appear to be keen to see play in one of our remaining games.
Whilst it’s difficult to say right now when the right time would be to do such a thing, it could be possible that our relegation is confirmed this Saturday - meaning that there’s very little left to play for other than pride before we wave goodbye to what has been a thoroughly depressing and miserable season.
Chris Coleman - once our fate has been sealed - may well find himself tempted to give minutes to players that may still be here next season in League One, and as such could afford a much-needed opportunity to the likes of Stryjek who are at that stage in their careers where they need to be playing on a regular basis.
Stryjek has just nine minutes of playing professional football under his belt but has been given international recognition by Poland and has just over a year left to run on his contract.
Sooner rather than later a decision will have to be made on his future, and whilst Chris Coleman played down suggestions that Stryjek might be ready to play when asked a few weeks back that stance must surely change once our demotion to the third tier is eventually confirmed.