Sunderland manager Steve Bruce insists Fraizer Campbell is “mentally tough enough” to bounce back from his latest injury setback.
The Black Cats striker is set to be out for 12 months after surgery on Wednesday to repair knee ligament damage and an Achilles tendon.
The 23-year-old has already missed most of this season after picking up the injury during a 1-0 win over Manchester City in late August.
He aggravated the problem during training earlier this month, and news of a further year on the sidelines have raised doubts over the likelihood he will fulfil his potential.
Bruce, however, is confident Campbell has the “strength of mind” to overcome the injury.
“Fraizer gets operated on today, he’ll be out for 12 months,” Bruce said.
“He was out on the training ground yesterday having a bit of banter with the players. He’s taken it OK because he’s strong mentally.”
“We’ve missed him. He came in at the start of the season and even the back end of last season and he was terrific.”
“When you’re up against it you want people like him in the team.”
“Thankfully, with his strength of mind we think he’ll be okay, I hope he will be. If there’s anyone mentally tough enough, it’s him.”
With Danny Welbeck rated only 50-50 to return against Wigan Athletic on Saturday following a hamstring strain, Bruce added: “The injuries to Welbeck and Campbell have killed us.
“Up front is the one area of the pitch where, for me, we were better than most at the start of the season with Darren Bent, Asamoah Gyan, Welbeck and Campbell.
“To go from what we started the season with to only having one striker now has made it really difficult.
“We’ve got to try and overcome that as well as we possibly can. It also puts a bit more pressure on us for next season.
“Going forward as a club we have to look to get over it because in the summer we’ve got one striker.”
Campbell’s operation is the second a Sunderland star has required this week, with Craig Gordon having also undergone knee surgery on Monday.
Bruce had hoped the 28-year-old could avoid going under the knife and revealed Gordon now faces up to six months out of action.
But the Black Cats boss has no fear that Belgian keeper Simon Mignolet can continue to deputise despite his mistake for Birmingham City’s first goal in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat.
“Simon’s done fantastically well in his first season,” said Bruce, who has recalled Trevor Carson from a loan spell at Brentford to provide cover for Mignolet.
“He made a mistake. Outfield players have been making mistakes for weeks. When you’re a goalkeeper, it gets highlighted.
“But I’ve watched him in training all week, I’ve worked with him now for eight months and he’ll be OK.
“He’ll have to recover but I think he’s strong enough to deal with it.”
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