Sunderland manager Lee Johnson says centre back Jordan Willis could be facing another extended spell on the sidelines through injury, after being stretchered off during their 2-1 defeat at Shrewsbury on Tuesday.
Willis continued his run in the Black Cats’ starting XI for that clash with Shrewsbury, but was carried off the pitch on a stretcher just three minutes into the game after slipping and landing awkwardly, which prompted a lengthy stoppage in the match.
Now it seems as though that blow could be a particularly damaging one for both Willis and Sunderland, judging by Johnson’s update on the defender.
Speaking about Willis’ injury in the aftermath of that defeat, the Black Cats boss was quoted by The Chronicle as saying: “We lost Jordan early and that looks a really bad one. We feel for him massively.
“It looks like he’s ruptured his patella, which would be a bad one. Obviously, we won’t know until we’ve had a proper look. That’s the worst-case scenario, but it seems that way.”
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Despite taking a 1-0 half time lead thanks to Aiden O’Brien’s second league goal of the season, second half goals from Ethan Ebanks-Landell and Harry Chapman secured all three points for the hosts.
That result means that Sunderland remain seventh in the League One table, two points adrift of the play-off places.
So far this season, Willis has made 20 appearances in all competitions for the Black Cats, with the defender’s contract at the Stadium of Light set to expire at the end of this season.
This will be a big blow for Willis and Sunderland.
The 26-year-old is certainly a solid defender, and you do feel as though his presence will be missed at the heart of the Black Cats’ backline, for what seems like it could be quite some time.
Indeed, with a heavy fixture schedule to come over the next few months, Sunderland could have probably done without losing players such as Willis, given the pressure it could put on the rest of their squad to cope with the demands of so many games.
Given his contract is expiring at the end of this season, that too will be a concern for Willis here, since it could be harder for him to earn a new deal – either with Sunderland or elsewhere – if he is not playing regularly between now and the end of the season.