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Dire Villa slide into drop zone

IRISH U-21 international David Meyler suffered further injury heartbreak last night after he was stretchered off in the first half with a knee injury.

The Corkman had only recently returned after almost a year out with a cruciate ligament injury, but the omens didn't look good for the 21-year-old when he was forced off six minutes before half-time.

"It looks as if he's damaged his knee again which is obviously very sad for us," said Sunderland manager Steve Bruce.

The injury soured what was otherwise another superb night for Bruce's men, who stay sixth in the table -- just two points behind Chelsea.

Aston Villa, meanwhile, dropped into the bottom three for the first time in seven years as their former loan signing Phil Bardsley earned the Black Cats victory at Villa Park.

Gerard Houllier's side slipped into the relegation zone on goal difference as a result of Wolves' shock victory over champions Chelsea at Molineux, with Villa fans chanting for the Frenchman to be sacked.

Villa had striker Emile Heskey sent off for violent conduct before Bardsley's winner, while Sunderland sub Boudewijn Zenden was then given his marching orders for two bookable offences.

Irish Independent