LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21: Wes Brown (#5) of Sunderland celebrates scoring his teams third goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Sunderland at Loftus Road on December 21, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Sunderland have been handed a big boost on the Wes Brown injury front.
The former Manchester United and England defender limped out of Sunderland's second Peace Cup game in Korea last week sparking fears of another lengthy absence for a player who has seen his career blighted by injury, but scans have revealed it was not as serious as first feared.
We’ve had really decent news on Wes. They’ve done two sets of scans and tests and x-rays on Wes and there doesn’t seem to be anything broken, which was a real worry for us at the time.
And I know that he’s feeling better both physically and psychologically and we now know that he will be out for a lot less time than we first feared when it happened.
Having allowed Michael Turner to join Norwich, and with Titus Bramble *searches for diplomatic words* noticeably struggling for form and fitness so far in preseason, O'Neill's relief is almost palpable. He added:
The word was drifting around the dressing room when it happened that it could be a broken bone but we really weren’t sure.
It would have been terrible news, for us and for him, if it had been the case because he can be such an important player when he’s fully fit and in form.
But now that the results show no serious damage he can start focus on just gently recuperating and looking to step back into things in the weeks ahead.
It is quite clear that the manager wants Wes Brown to be an important part of the team next season and it is easy to see why. Until injury last term he was the stand-out performer for the Black Cats in defence.
O'Neill has appeared to rule out any further defensive strengthening following the acquisition of Carlos Cuellar, which he admits was more a case of opportunism than executing any actual plans. Whilst a long-term injury to Brown would have likely changed those plans, you have to wonder whether an injury scare may give the manager some food for thought.
We still don't know the exact length of time that Brown will be missing, but the fact it will be counted in weeks and not months is certainly a relief.