Sunderland have suffered another injury blow as defender Arbenit Xhemajli has been ruled out for the rest of the 2020/21 campaign.
The Black Cats signed the centre-back from Swiss side Neuchâtel Xamax FCS during the summer window but his debut season at the Stadium of Light has been cut short after picking up a long-term knee injury while on international duty with Kosovo.
In a statement on the club website, Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson revealed the 22-year-old would be sidelined for the rest of the season.
He said: “Unfortunately, Arby suffered a very serious knee injury whilst he was away with Kosovo.
“He will be out for the remainder of the season and it’s a real shame for him because he had settled into the club well.”
He added: “We feel for him, but we will give him all the support he needs to get through it, from the medical team and the staff to the players.”
Xhemajli’s injury is the latest in a number of defensive setbacks the Black Cats have suffered recently, with Morgan Feeney facing months on the sidelines, Jordan Willis carrying a knock and Tom Flanagan suspended for this weekend’s game against Swindon Town.
That leaves just Bailey Wright, Brandon Taylor, and Conor McLaughlin as Parkinson’s only options at centre-back, with the Sunderland boss favouring three at the back this term.
Recent reports have indicated that the North East club were keen to bring in another centre-back before the 5pm deadline for domestic deals tomorrow and you feel they will likely ramp up their efforts following this update.
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This is a major blow for the Black Cats and yet another injury setback for their defensive unit.
The 22-year-old was something of a left-field signing but given the players missing at the moment, looked set to play an important role over the next few weeks.
Xhemajli will now miss the rest of his debut season at Sunderland, heightening their need to bring in reinforcements before tomorrow’s deadline.