Stadium of Light club suffer huge blow in fight against relegation.
Sunderland duo Steven Fletcher and Lee Cattermole have been ruled out for the remainder of the season with injury, the club have confirmed.
Midfield enforcer Cattermole, 25, underwent an operation on his knee on Wednesday, while Fletcher sustained ankle ligament damage in Scotland’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying defeat in Serbia on Tuesday night.
The club said it was unknown if Fletcher would require surgery but confirmed he would be assessed in the coming weeks.
Tough-tackling star Cattermole has been plagued by injuries this term and has managed just ten appearances for Martin O’Neill’s side all campaign.
Fletcher, meanwhile, is the Black Cats top scorer in the league having netted 11 times in 31 appearances since arriving at the Stadium of Light for £12m from Wolves in the summer.
The news is a major blow to the Weirside club, who 16th in the Premier League, just four points above the drop zone with eight games remaining.
Sunderland face matches against Manchester United, Chelsea, Everton, Newcastle and Tottenham, as well as relegation six-pointers with Aston Villa and Southampton, before the end of the season.
Sunderland’s second top scorer behind Fletcher is midfielder Craig Gardner with six goals.
This tweet from OptaJoe reveals how reliant the club have been on Fletcher this season.
9 – Without Steven Fletcher’s goals this season Sunderland would be bottom of the Premier League & nine points from safety. Crocked.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 27, 2013