SUNDERLAND are considering the recall of on-loan David Meyler in the wake of Lee Cattermole’s latest knee injury.
The skipper was injured in the Black Cats’ goalless draw against Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday with early reports suggesting he has suffered medial ligament damage which could sideline him until the end of January.
And that leaves Sunderland with only three recognised central midfielders – Craig Gardner, Jack Colback and David Vaughan – although wide man Seb Larsson has moved infield several times this season.
With the captain out for possibly two months, and missing up to 10 games in that time – not to mention cup matches – boss Martin O’Neill could act to strengthen Sunderland’s options both immediately, through Meyler’s recall, and in January when the transfer window re-opens.
Meyler was allowed to leave on loan to Hull City, now managed by ex-Sunderland boss Steve Bruce, on November 8 with a provisional agreement that he would play at the KC Stadium until the end of the year when the loan would be reviewed.
It was an agreement welcomed by the 23-year-old Republic of Ireland midfielder, who was an anxious to get first-team action if he wasn’t going to be regularly involved at Sunderland.
“I’m going out on loan with a view to getting a run of games under my belt so that I can come back to Sunderland fitter and sharper and ready to genuinely challenge for a place in the starting line-up,” he said.
“I’m delighted to be going to Hull because I think they’re a good side, on the up, and because they’re managed by Steve Bruce who knows my game and is keen to use me.”
But O’Neill – who refused to sanction any further loans earlier this month because of how small his squad is – admitted he had thought long and hard about whether he was able to allow the young Irishman to leave the Stadium of Light.
Meyler has so far been involved in three games for the Championship side – a 3-2 win over Birmingham, a 1-0 defeat to Burnley and a goalless draw with high-flying Crystal Palace on Tuesday in the midfielder’s first start for the Tigers.
He is available for Hull’s game against Nottingham Forest this weekend but after that, having been on loan for 28 days, he is eligible for an automatic recall should Sunderland wish it.
And if O’Neill opts to bring him back straight away, Meyler will be available for the visit of Chelsea to the Stadium of Light on December 8.
So far though, Sunderland have made no contact with Hull to notify them of their intention to recall, and it may be that the Black Cats continue to let him see out the full term of his loan so that he can get the match fitness he originally joined the Championship side for.
Either way, the injury to Cattermole is a headache the manager could have done without.
The captain has been more infuential than ever in the games he has played this season and had been nursing a knee injury in recent weeks he was hopeful of overcoming, only to injure the other knee in the opening few minutes of Tuesday’s game against QPR.