SUNDERLAND’S next manager will have to do without Lamine Kone until December after learning his knee problem is worse than initially thought.

The Ivorian defender would have been due to meet up with his country ahead of a World Cup qualifier against Morocco this weekend.

But the Ivory Coast’s manager Marc Wilmots, the former Belgium boss, has revealed that Kone has not been included because of the length of time he will be out of action.

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Wilmots said: “I just waited for Friday because Lamine Kone called me, he told me that he had hurt his knee and also the adductor.

"I waited for the results of the MRI for whether he could be present or not. Lamine Kone will unfortunately have between four and six weeks of injury.”

Kone has not figured in either of Sunderland’s last two matches against Bolton and Middlesbrough and has struggled for good form all season.

There has remained interest in him from the Premier League, although the chances of Sunderland bringing in a fee of around £10m for a player once rated at £25m now appears fanciful.

Sunderland would still prefer to cash in on him in January, though, to help boost their own recruitment process with Simon Grayson's successor.

Sunderland chief executive Martin Bain is continuing the search for a new manager, and in an ideal world they would have someone in place to train with the players next week ahead of the visit of Millwall on November 18.

But there is still nothing imminent on the appointment front, although Bain has been assessing the availability of certain candidates.

The likes of Aitor Karanka, Paul Cook and even Luton’s Nathan Jones are thought to have been considered along with Ally McCoist.

But former Sunderland manager Roy Keane has distanced himself from a return to the Stadium of Light, even if he is one of very few names that could actually bring an instant lift back to the struggling Wearside club.