JOHN O’Shea looks certain to be out of Sunderland’s game against Chelsea this weekend after developing hip and calf problems while away on international duty.
The 30-year-old only returned to first-team action at Swansea City after a five-week lay-off with a hamstring problem but jetted off immediately to link up with the Republic of Ireland for European Championship qualifiers.
And the always risky schedule seems to have backfired with the defender missing out on the Republic’s game against Russia tomorrow night after picking up injuries in the goal-less draw with Slovakia on Saturday.
O’Shea had hoped that the international games would help ratchet up his fitness in preparation for the visit of Chelsea to the Stadium of Light this Saturday.
He told SportMail before he flew off to the Republic training camp: “I’ll get my fitness from playing for Ireland and hopefully some confidence from two good results.
“I’ll need three or four games probably to get into full flight because I was blowing at times during the game from Swansea.
Instead, the intensity of the training and games so soon after his return seems to have taken their toll.
The former Manchester United man has now returned to Sunderland where his fitness is being assessed by the club’s medical staff.
It is unlikely O’Shea will rule himself out for the weekend’s clash with the Blues but the club might decide to err on the side of caution and try to have him ready for the following fixture – the visit of Stoke City to Wearside mid-month.
If that happens, then Bruce will be forced to reshuffle the defence which secured the club’s first clean sheet of the season against the Swans.
With Anton Ferdinand’s sale to Queen Park Rangers last week, there are likely to be two changes to the back four with the likelihood being that Titus Bramble will partner Wes Brown in the heart of defence with Phil Bardsley and Kieran Richardson full-backs.
There was better international news for the Black Cats though from Ghana where Asamoah Gyan’s injury in the game against Swaziland has not proven to be as serious as it first appeared.
The striker was stetchered off after just 38 minutes and will miss tonight’s friendly against Brazil at Fulham’s Craven Cottage but should not be sidelined for long.
Ghana team doctor Percy Adnan said: “The scans revealed that there was no muscle tear in his thigh but he felt contusion in the area.
“He would be able to return to action soon.”