Injuries are hurting us, says Sunderland captain

John O’Shea admits that Sunderland will struggle whilst their injury list grows.

The Black Cats have started the season solidly, winning two and drawing five of their 10 games, although they suffered the ignominy of being on the end of an 8-0 defeat at Southampton last month.

They recovered to defeat Crystal Palace on Monday evening - with goals from Steven Fletcher and Jordi Gomez clinching a 3-1 victory - and head coach Gus Poyet appears to have finally found stability in his starting line-up - being vindicated for his decision to play Costel Pantilimon over first-choice goalkeeper Vito Mannone.

However, this stability has come at the expense of possessing a competitive first-team squad, with a host of injures leaving Poyet to select the only starting XI he has available. Emanuele Giaccherini, Billy Jones, Sebastian Coates and Ricky Alvarez were already out of action heading into Monday’s game, before former Chelsea man Patrick van Aanholt dislocated his shoulder during the game.

Lee Cattermole will also be missing from action this weekend, with the Black Cats hosting Everton at the Stadium of Light, having picked up his fifth suspension of the season - resulting in a one-match ban.

And, with so many injuries, the Black Cats back-four picks itself, and captain John O’Shea believes the club will not be competitive until everyone is back in contention, although they need to keep winning games during this tough spell.

Speaking to the Chronicle, the former Manchester United man said: “We have a small squad and we’re picking up injuries now.

“We have to make sure we look after everyone and get everyone back as quick as we can.

“The important thing is competition. You need that to keep everyone on their toes.

“Competition is needed, but ultimately we need to keep winning games.”

A win for Sunderland at the weekend will move the North Eastern club onto 14 points, potentially leaving them in the top half of the Premier League table heading into the international break.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for EVERTON team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch