Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is keeping his fingers crossed over full-back George McCartney ahead of tomorrow’s Barclays Premier League clash with Portsmouth.
The Northern Ireland international is battling against the hamstring strain which kept him out of last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Fulham amid a growing defensive crisis.
Phil Bardsley and Kieran Richardson, who occupied the full-back berths at Craven Cottage, are both suspended, while Craig Gordon (broken arm), Anton Ferdinand (ankle), John Mensah (calf), Lee Cattermole (medial ligament) and Bolo Zenden (hamstring) are all out.
Bruce will be forced to use the depth of his squad and has drafted in 18-year-old striker Ryan Noble after his FA Youth Cup hat-trick on Monday.
Provisional squad: Fulop, Carson, McCartney, Da Silva, Turner, Nosworthy, Cana, Reid, Malbranque, Henderson, Campbell, Jones, Bent, Healy, Murphy, Meyler, Reed, Noble.