David Moyes remains hopeful central defender Lamine Kone will be fit for Saturday’s match at Stoke City, despite suffering a hamstring problem on international duty.
Kone reported back with the injury despite playing the full 90 minutes as Ivory Coast beat Mali 3-1 in their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign last weekend.
And Moyes hopes the 27-year-old will come through tests ahead of their trip to the bet365 Stadium as Sunderland go in search of their first Premier League win of the season.
“Two players back from international duty are doubts, Lamine Kone and Jason Denayer,” said Moyes. “There is very little you can do about that.
“Lamine finished the game, though, and that’s why I don’t want to totally rule him out.
“I always tend to think that if you finish the game, you’re not too bad, so we’ll wait and see where he is before making a decision.
“At the moment we are losing two or three players a game and that is a real problem.”
Stoke are also yet to taste top-flight victory this season so the battle between the bottom two clubs takes on extra significance, with defeat likely to cast the other adrift at the foot of table.
Moyes remains positive about Sunderland’s form, though, despite only two draws from their opening seven matches.
“I think the good thing about our position is that we’ve never been that far away in any of the games,” the Scot added.
“I keep saying that we’ve always had a chance in all of the games. We’ve tended to do quite well away from home, maybe more so than at home at this present time.
“We’ve got to go in there positive, knowing that the game will be tough. We’re going to have to be hard to beat.”