MICHAEL Turner faces another month on the sidelines, though Steve Bruce has moved to calm fears the central defender is out for the season.
Reports at the start of the week claimed Turner’s campaign was over after suffering a setback in his return from knee ligament damage – sustained when he collided with a post in November’s 2-2 draw with Everton.
Turner, right, had felt niggling pain in his knee after returning to full training and was forced to revisit the specialist to undergo another scan.
But Sunderland boss Bruce insists there was nothing untoward shown and the 26-year-old should be able to return in a matter of weeks.
“Michael has been to see the specialist and the specialist is happy with his progress,” said Bruce.
“He damaged the posterior cruciate ligament and that has healed, but he now needs to build up his quad muscle in that leg.
“Michael has been a massive miss for us and hopefully he will be back in the coming weeks.”
While Turner’s diagnosis is not as bad as first feared, Bruce’s injury crisis is in no danger of immediate improvement.
Long-term casualties Danny Welbeck, Fraizer Campbell and David Meyler (all knee) and Lee Cattermole (back) remain sidelined with the quartet not expected to be back in first-team contention until Sunderland travel to Manchester City on April 3.
Campbell only took part his in his first full training session yesterday, while Welbeck is expected to return next week.
Bruce said: “I can’t see any of our long-term injuries being ready to return for at least three weeks.
“We’ve got two games in March – against Arsenal and Liverpool – but I don’t envisage anyone being back until the Manchester City game at the beginning of next month at the earliest.”
Ahead of Saturday’s trip to Arsenal, Sunderland also have injury concerns over right-back Nedum Onuoha and midfielder Bolo Zenden, with both rated 50-50 to figure at the Emirates.
Onuoha missed last weekend’s defeat at Everton with a calf injury, while Zenden aggravated his calf in the warm-up at Goodison Park.