LEE CATTERMOLE is not expected to face a second sustained spell on the sidelines despite a training ground setback.
Cattermole returned to action a fortnight ahead of schedule this week after featuring as a late substitute in Sunderland’s FA Cup third round replay defeat to Bolton.
The captain had been out for a month-and-a-half with knee ligament damage and enjoyed just two training sessions at the Academy of Light before being thrust back into the first-team picture.
But Cattermole suffered a recurrence of the problem in a training ground game on Thursday and has been all-but-ruled out of today’s trip to Wigan.
The 24-year-old has undergone an MRI scan on the fresh injury, with the results sent to the specialist who oversaw his rehabilitation for the original problem, but Martin O’Neill is hopeful that the midfielder has not suffered any major damage.
“We’re hoping it’s not serious,” said O’Neill.
“After so long out, it was almost to be expected I think that Lee might have some kind of setback.
“We played a game in training this week, primarily to help the two new signings Alfred N’Diaye and Kader Mangane with their fitness, and it was in that game that Lee got this injury.
“He kicked the ground and it caused him some pain in his knee.
“He’s had an MRI scan and the specialist has had a look at those scans and at the moment I am pleased to say that he is not too worried about it.
“We are certainly hoping that he won’t be out as long as he was before – that would be terrible.”
Cattermole suffered the original injury in Sunderland’s stalemate against QPR in November, when he had been a major doubt to feature in the game after aggravating his other knee in the defeat to West Brom three days earlier.