Sunderland’s woes have eased slightly after Steed Malbranque was released from hospital following the 1-1 draw at Portsmouth.
Malbranque picked up a chest problem in the first half of the Barclays Premier League contest at Fratton Park and was sent for precautionary tests.
However, the Belgium-born former France Under-21 international was later cleared to fly back to the north east with his team-mates.
A statement on the club’s official website, www.safc.com, read: “Sunderland midfielder Steed Malbranque has been given the all-clear after picking up a nasty knock against Portsmouth.
“The 30-year-old was substituted just before the break with a chest injury and was sent to hospital as a precaution.
“But the Belgian winger was discharged after tests and was able to rejoin his team-mates at the airport for the plane ride back to the north east.
“He will be monitored by the club’s medical team and has just under two weeks to recover ahead of the game at Arsenal later this month.”
Steve Bruce’s side have 10 days to reflect on conceding a 96th-minute equaliser to beleaguered Portsmouth, with their next match scheduled for February 20 at Arsenal.
The Black Cats remain without an away win since the opening day of the season after Aruna Dindane cancelled out Darren Bent’s early penalty.
To compound Bruce’s misery, his side finished with nine men after the dismissals of Lee Cattermole and David Meyler.
Meyler will serve a three-match ban for elbowing Steve Finnan and Cattermole a one-match suspension after his sending off for a second bookable offence.
Cattermole will miss the match at the Emirates Stadium, while Meyler will also miss the fixtures with Fulham (February 28) and Aston Villa (March 6).