- Sunderland face an anxious wait over key defender Daniel Ballard’s fitness, as he picked up a hamstring concern during international duty.
- Ballard’s absence could make him a doubt for the upcoming clash with Plymouth Argyle, which would be a huge blow for the team.
- Ballard is an important part of Sunderland’s squad and has been a consistent performer, making his potential absence concerning for the team’s promotion push.
Sunderland are facing an anxious wait over the fitness of key defender Daniel Ballard.
The centre back is currently on international duty with Northern Ireland as part of their attempts to qualify for the European Championship this summer.
According to Chronicle Live, the 24-year-old is set to be assessed this morning following a hamstring concern he picked up during the team’s recent clash with Finland.
Northern Ireland lost 4-0 in Helsinki and can no longer qualify for the international tournament in Germany next year.
Michael O’Neill’s side compete again this evening as they take on Denmark in Belfast, but it remains to be seen whether Ballard will be available for selection.
What is the latest Sunderland team news?
This could make Ballard a doubt for Saturday’s clash with Plymouth Argyle.
The defender has been a key figure in Tony Mowbray’s side so far this season, featuring 15 times in the league from 16 games.
Ballard is an important part of Mowbray’s squad, and it would be a huge blow if he were to miss any upcoming fixtures.
Ballard was absent for the club’s 3-1 win over Birmingham City prior to the November international break, having been suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
Having served his one-game ban, Sunderland will be hoping to bring him back into the starting lineup for the clash with the Pilgrims this weekend.
A hamstring injury, if serious enough, could leave him on the sidelines for a number of weeks, or even months, so this will come as very concerning news for the Black Cats.
Ballard is one of the most consistent performers in Mowbray’s side, and will be key to any potential promotion push this campaign.
The likes of Dennis Cirkin, Aji Alese. Timothee Pembele, Jay Matete and Corry Evans are all also expected to be absent this weekend.
Where are Sunderland in the Championship table?
Sunderland moved up to sixth in the Championship table with their 3-1 win over the Blues earlier this month.
The victory earned them a place back inside the top six positions in the division, which would be enough to secure a play-off place.
However, it is only their superior goal difference that separates them from seventh and eighth place in the standings.
Victory over Plymouth on Saturday could see them move up to fifth if results elsewhere go in their favour.
Sunderland travel to Home Park for a 3pm kick-off on 25 November.
How important is Dan Ballard to Sunderland?
Ballard is a key defender for Sunderland and is one of their most consistent performers.
Given the defensive injuries elsewhere in the squad, it would be a real blow to also lose Ballard for any kind of extended period.
The Black Cats will be hoping the injury suffered on international duty is just minor, as they cannot afford to lose him going into such a busy and important part of the season.
Ballard shouldn’t feature in tonight’s game against Denmark as Northern Ireland are out of qualifying, and thus have no reason to risk further injuring one of their best players.