Sunderland’s return to the Premier League was supposed to be triumphant – under Roy Keane Sunderland had been reborn in the Championship and smart money suggested that they would do well against the big boys, especially with several teams expected to struggle.
So far, it’s been tough but a vindication of that view, with Sunderland showing signs that over the course of the season they have the ability and will to stay up this year. What makes their task hard is the injuries to their two creative players, Kieran Richardson and Carlos Edwards.
Richardson was a 5m buy from Manchester United and the early games showed that he had the ability to be a big star for Keano’s men if he played consistently. That hope was trashed this week when, after coming back from an injury from last month, a visit to the doc showed that he had a stress fracture in his back and that he would be out for another 2-3 months.
With Carlos Edwards it is worse. He is pretty much the poster boy of the attacking verve that helped Sunderland storm to the top of the Championship last season and he has been sorely missed since getting injured in the first game of the season. Edwards too returned to training only to suffer a similar injury in training and his comeback has now been delayed by another month.
Add Dean Whitehead’s 6-month layoff to the mix and you have a Championship squad struck by injuries to 3 of its first choice midfielders. What makes it worse is that the next two games – home to Reading and away to Boro – are games that Roy Keane would have expected his team to win but without these 3, their task is much, much harder.