Fletcher, Cattermole blows for Sunderland
Sunderland have been dealt a devastating double blow, with Steven Fletcher and Lee Cattermole both ruled out for the rest of the season.
Leading scorer Fletcher suffered ankle ligament damage playing for Scotland last week, while midfielder Cattermole has undergone surgery on a persistent knee injury.
The news could hardly have come at a worse time for Martin O'Neill, whose team find themselves firmly entrenched in a battle for top-flight survival with eight games left.
They face leaders Manchester United at the Stadium of Light on Saturday desperate to end a run of seven league games without a victory. They are four points clear of the drop zone.
Fletcher, in particular, will be a huge loss after paying off a large proportion of the £12m fee the club invested in him during the summer with 11 goals, though he has scored only one in his last seven games.