Sunderland boss Steve Bruce grateful Connor Wickham is due back before end of the year

Connor Wickham could recover quicker than feared.
Connor Wickham could recover quicker than feared.

STEVE Bruce admits he is “grateful” that Connor Wickham should be back in action before the end of 2011.

The Sunderland boss feared the worst when Wickham was stretchered off within the first five minutes of the Black Cats’ defeat at Old Trafford 10 days ago, amid initial concerns that the 18-year-old had ruptured his cruciate knee ligament.

But subsequent scans showed the £8million striker had only suffered damage to the ligament at the back of his knee and faces four to six weeks on the sidelines.

While Black Cats boss Bruce believes it could take Wickham a couple of weeks beyond that to regain match fitness, the injury blow is far less severe than a season-ending cruciate lay-off.

Bruce said: “Thankfully, it won’t rule him out for the season which was our initial fear and that is a big relief.

“If you tear your cruciate or medial ligament, you are generally out for at least six months.

“We believe there is damage to a ligament at the back of the knee and we hope that it will repair within four to six weeks.”

Read more of Steve Bruce’s thoughts on Connor Wickham in today’s Sportmail.