SUNDERLAND’S game at Bristol Rovers has been postponed because of international call-ups.

The Black Cats had been due to visit the Memorial Ground a week on Saturday, but the game will now have to be rearranged for an alternative date.

Sunderland requested a postponement once three of their players had been selected for international duty, with Jon McLaughlin having been named in the Scotland squad and Conor McLaughlin and Tom Flanagan both having retained their places with Northern Ireland.

Jon McLaughlin’s call-up was the crucial one, with Sunderland having concerns over the fitness of their only other senior goalkeeper, Lee Burge.

Burge damaged his thigh in the recent defeat at Shrewsbury Town, and was unavailable for Tuesday’s Trophy defeat at the hands of Leicester City Under-21s. He is not expected to feature in Saturday’s FA Cup first-round tie with Gillingham as he has not been able to take part in training this week.

Anthony Patterson has been sitting on the bench in Burge’s absence, but while the 19-year-old could make his senior debut in next week’s EFL Trophy game at Scunthorpe United, Parkinson has serious reservations about his readiness for league action.

The postponement of the Bristol Rovers game means Sunderland will have gone three weeks without a league game by the time they return to League One action against Coventry City on November 23, and increases the likelihood of a fixture pile-up in the second half of the season. As well as needing to rearrange their trip to the Memorial Stadium, the club are still to announce a new date for the Fleetwood home game that was postponed last month.

However, the spare weekend gives Parkinson a ten-day training window in which he can work with his squad, something he has been keen to secure since replacing Jack Ross at the start of last month.

The Black Cats’ schedule means time on the training ground has been limited, with Parkinson having to focus on a series of midweek games.

Meanwhile, Sunderland’s Under-18s have been drawn away to Shrewsbury Town in the second round of the FA Youth Cup.

The Black Cats’ youngsters will travel to Shrewsbury’s Montgomery Waters Meadow on Friday, November 15 (ko 7pm).