The challenge has already been made significantly harder by Tony Mowbray’s claim that ‘four or five’ players face missing the trip due to injury.

Sunderland faces their most challenging test of the season as they head to Leicester City tonight. Unfortunately, this challenge has been made even more difficult due to Tony Mowbray’s statement that ‘four or five’ players may miss the trip due to injuries. The Black Cats have not been fortunate with injuries this season, following a previous season plagued by the same issue.

Several key players, including Corry Evans, Timothee Pembele, Alex Pritchard, Jay Matete, Pierre Ekwah, Aji Alese, Bradley Dack, Dan Ballard, Dennis Cirkin, and Eliezer Mayenda, have all been sidelined with injuries in recent months. There’s hope for the return of Cirkin and Mayenda, who might make the bench against Leicester. However, there’s bad news concerning Ballard, who hasn’t trained since the defeat to Stoke City, despite starting in the weekend’s match.

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In the lead-up to the Leicester clash, Mowbray revealed, “Is everyone fit and well? No. Is anyone back from injury? No. It’s a quick turnaround, and there are four or five players not training today, but we hope they’ll be able to play tomorrow. There are numerous knocks and niggles, such as tight calves, sore hamstrings, and dead legs. We’ll conduct fitness tests tomorrow to determine who can play. Dan Ballard is one of the players who hasn’t trained since his last match, so we’ll have to see if he passes a fitness test tomorrow.”

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The absence of Dan Ballard would be a significant blow to the team. While he may not have garnered as much attention as Jack Clarke, he has arguably been one of Sunderland’s standout players this season. Ballard’s outstanding defensive skills, including crucial blocks and interceptions, have prevented numerous goals. In matches against Stoke and Middlesbrough, the scorelines could have been much worse without his presence in the defense.

Facing a formidable team like Leicester, with players like Kelechi Iheanacho and Stephy Mavididi, without their top defender would be a disastrous situation. The question arises as to whether the relatively inexperienced Jenson Seelt or Nectarios Triantis can adequately step in to fill Ballard’s shoes against a team that has won eleven of their first twelve matches. The outcome remains uncertain.

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