Sunderland bounced back from their defeat against Burton Albion with a 1-0 win against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday afternoon, at the Stadium of Light.
Carl Winchester scored the only goal of the game after 64 minutes, as the Black Cats moved up to fifth in the League One table, after their opening four matches of this year’s campaign.
But there were worrying scenes towards the end of the win over AFC Wimbledon, with Luke O’Nien picking up a shoulder injury, although he did return to the field after receiving treatment.
Speaking in a post-match press conference (quotes sourced from the Sunderland Echo), Sunderland boss Lee Johnson issued an update on O’Nien’s injury, and revealed that he’s hopeful that the 26-year-old will be able to play through the problem for the remainder of this year’s campaign.
“The physio and doctor have done a great job again. With that kind of injury, when they dislocate, the danger is the length of time that the shoulder is out. If that’s three or four hours, that’s a big problem. If it’s 20 seconds, it’s different.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to get through to the end of the season, but inevitably he’ll probably need that shoulder pinned eventually.
“If he can handle it keeping on coming out and going back in, then we’ll be okay. But it’s a fine line. You want to protect him in the long term, but at the same time we need him.”
Johnson went on to state that Burge’s injury concern was over a hip flexor that was tweaked whilst practicing his kicking prior to the clash with AFC Wimbledon.
“He was just practising his kicking, and he just felt something on his hip flexor.
“I think he felt he could have gone on and played, but when I saw him walking down the corridor, he was sort of dot-dashing in his stride. I felt it was wise to leave him off.”
Sunderland are set to return to action against on Tuesday evening, when they take on Championship side Blackpool in the Second Round of the EFL Cup.
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Johnson will be hoping that both O’Nien and Burge are fit to feature for the majority of this year’s campaign.
They both played an important role in Sunderland’s promotion bid last term, and the Sunderland boss will be keen to have his key players available for selection moving forwards.
O’Nien in particular has impressed in the last couple of seasons, and he’s been a versatile option to have in the Sunderland team in recent months.
Anthony Patterson put in a strong performance between the posts in Lee Burge’s absence, and it’ll be interesting to see whether he keeps his place in the side for when Burge returns to action.