NEW Sunderland striker Ignacio Scocco could get his first taste of Premier League action earlier than anticipated after it was revealed the extent of Steven Fletcher’s injury is worse than first feared.
Fletcher has been struggling to shake off an Achilles injury for several weeks and Black Cats boss Gus Poyet faces a dilemma over whether to send the striker for an operation now or manage the problem until the end of the season.
Surgery would probably mean a lay-off of around six weeks, but if the Poyet decides to put it off, Fletcher’s fitness would have to be monitored on a daily basis.
Losing the striker for a lengthy spell is a huge blow for the Black Cats even if his goalscoring return hasn’t matched last season’s and it could mean Poyet is forced to throw Scocco into first-team affairs ahead of schedule.
The Black Cats boss revealed he was keen to ease the Argentinean in at the Stadium of Light, but with plenty of games to come over the next month that plan may have to change starting with Saturday’s game against Hull City at the Stadium of Light.
Fletcher’s absence also means Connor Wickham will not be allowed to leave Wearside on another loan deal.
Wickham has impressed during a spell at Sheffield Wednesday, but despite interest from several Championship clubs, Poyet has made the decision to keep the 20-year-old and give him another chance to get his Sunderland career back on track.
On Fletcher’s injury, Poyet said: “It's affecting him more than I thought.
“We're analysing it with the medical staff but we're going to have to make a decision one way or the other.
“It probably makes it more likely that Connor will stay for longer. Connor has got plenty of admirers, you can’t imagine how many.
“But he wasn’t going anywhere on loan before the transfer deadline. He’s part of the squad and he’s done very well at Sheffield. That’s why he’s got so many options. But at the same time, he’s our player.
“He’s been on the bench for the last two games and he would have come on against Stoke, if Phil Bardsley hadn’t got injured, which changed my plans.
“The decision at the moment is that he’s our player and we need him here.”
Meanwhile, Bolton manager Dougie Freedman has expressed his disappointment at losing Marcos Alonso.
The left-back, who joined Sunderland last month, left the Reebok Stadium for Fiorentina last summer and he has already impressed by quickly settling into Premier League life.
Freedman admits he wanted to keep the Spaniard.
“I was disappointed when he left in the summer but I can't blame the boy for wanting to go and play in Serie A.
“He came in, did great, and we tried to keep him in the end but the lure of Serie A was too good.
“A few months later when he was looking to come back I spoke to Gus Poyet on it and there were a couple of clubs in the Premier League looking to sign him, so I'm not surprised he's doing well for Sunderland.