TOM FLANAGAN faces up to six weeks on the sidelines after suffering a fractured metatarsal.

Flanagan missed Sunderland's 1-1 draw with Hull City last night, with Lee Johnson revealing the centre-half has been struggling with the problem for some time.

Johnson said: "Flanno has got a broken metatarsal sustained, I think, before I came in.

"He’s been playing on with that but it’s painful, and losing him is a difficult one to take.

"It’s a very small break or fracture. It could be as short as three weeks or it could be as long as six weeks.

"I think it will be the shorter version, and that’s good because he is important and I think he’s been playing well.

Jordan Willis was also absent from the squad last night as he was suffering from an illness, however the problem is not Covid-related.

Johnson said: "Jordan was a bit of a frustrating one because he would have played tonight in some shape or form.

"He has a cold, he has had a Covid test and it’s not Covid.

"I need to demand players get out there, but he’s ill and you can’t legislate for that.

"We will need everybody, though, so it is really important we look after the boys and try to prevent them picking up these kind of bugs."

Lee Burge started last night's game, but was forced off at half-time after suffering damage to his eye following an early collision with Mallik Wilks.

Burge's error led to Hull's goal, with the goalkeeper dropping George Honeyman's free-kick, and Johnson concedes the earlier incident with Wilks might have contributed to the mistake.

He said: "He came off at half-time complaining of a little bit of a blind spot in his left eye. It was better to be safe than sorry. 

"Whether that affected his balance or jis judgement for the goal or not, we'll give him the benefit of the doubt. 

"The lads showed their character to dig him out."