Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole is out of action for two months after suffering suspected medial ligament damage against Queens Park Rangers.
The 24-year-old was substituted .
Cattermole had been a surprise pick after injuring
Sunderland play 11 league games over the next two months, including facing Reading, Southampton and Wigan.
The Black Cats lie one point off the relegation zone after one win in their last nine league matches.
James McClean was brought in as manager Martin O'Neill reorganised his midfield to account for former Wigan and Middlesbrough anchorman Cattermole's absence
David Vaughan and Jack Colback are also options in central midfield.