Players picking up injuries is a common aspect of the modern game.
With games coming thick and fast throughout the season, clubs need the squad depth to cope. Citing injury as an excuse for poor form isn’t something I’m fond of teams doing, but I’m willing to make an exception for Sunderland this campaign.
News on Friday morning that Aji Alese will miss the rest of the campaign through injury is a further hammer blow to our season. He becomes the fourth player who we will not see again between now and May.
It’s an injury list that has constantly featured key first team players, and one which now looks to be killing what’s left of the season.
There’s no denying that the mood around the club has taken a kicking in recent weeks. Poor results breed concern and frustration, and on top of various other factors our woeful injury record has contributed to this.
It feels as though we’ve spent large parts of the season being described as ‘thin on the ground’.
Long term injuries to Ross Stewart and Corry Evans have arguably been the worst of these injuries. The blow might have been lessened if we had at least partial replacements within the squad. With Evans, we have options to play in the middle - although one of them, Pierre Ekwah, seems unable to get more than a few minutes here and there.
It’s not just the season-ending injuries that have plagued our campaign. We’ve been without either Dan Ballard or Danny Batth for large chunks of the season. On-loan Ellis Simms was out of action for seven matches during which time Stewart was also unavailable for a long spell. Add to that the reocurring injuries to Dennis Cirkin and Niall Huggins, and you’ll struggle to find a position in the side that hasn’t been riddled with injury.
The season is over three quarters complete, and we find ourselves in the top half during our first campaign back in the Championship.
Few would have expected this, of course, and plaudits are deserved for our overall competitive season through what has been a shocking run of injuries.
With what looks like a tough run of games to come, it feels as though we are heading to Carrow Road with what could be a patched-up squad.
Yet at the same time, it isn’t. The left back position will be interesting, but you’d expect Luke O’Nien to slot in. this would leave us short on centre-mid options - especially if Mowbray continues to not give Ekwah a shot there.
It’s time for the lads who are available to regain some of the pride which has eked away in recent weeks. Three straight defeats will be enough to chisel away at any side’s confidence - but with a squad as young as ours it will surely be hit particularly hard. These next four games will be especially telling in just how we reflect on this season.
I would say that our injury crisis couldn’t get any worse, but I’m pretty sure that’s been said on numerous occasions already.
So instead, let’s all just see how whoever line-ups up at Norwich gets on.
Keep the faith and all that, because at the end of the day, there’s still plenty of that left.