SUNDERLAND manager Lee Johnson has been left frustrated at captain Corry Evans injury problems this season with the midfielder suffering since pre-season. 

The 31-year-old Northern Ireland international has featured just seven times this season since joining on a free transfer from Blackburn Rovers.

Evans has suffered another injury set back with the news that his calf injury is set to keep him out for the next three weeks. 

The Black Cats boss also feels that the Northern Ireland midfielder is suffering from a truncated pre-season.

“Evans is a tricky one" added Johnson.

“On the physio bed, he appears well but I’m holding him back at the moment because I believe, and so do the medics, that the calf is probably closer to the three weeks which is what he's done. He had a grade two B tear of the calf.

“But’s he’s presenting well. Which is a good sign but at the same time we want him fit over the course of the season.

“That’s (the pre-season schedule) the bit I’m most disappointed with.

“It’s really difficult. We wouldn’t have got Corry Evans day one of pre-season because there was too many Championship clubs interested in him, so we had to stand in the queue.

“Obviously in doing that, it’s hard to train on your own like a team would train. He did work hard and he did put the work in but it’s not the same.

“As I say those chaotic movements that sort of strengthens the muscles, the ligaments, the groin on the back of half a season he played for Blackburn.

“The good thing is his fitness isn’t slack. We’ve just got to get rid of these little niggles.

“Maybe it was my fault in terms of playing him again. Maybe I should have left him out after the Cheltenham game. I had him on the bench and brought him on but at some point, you’ve got to go with these guys.”

Alongside Evans, Leon Dajaku, Lynden Gooch, Nathan Broadhead and Niall Huggins will miss the game through their respective injuries. 

They have been boosted by the return of Aiden McGeady who's recovered from an ankle injury while Luke O'Nien has received positive news from an x-ray to a rib injury and is expected to play against Gillingham. 

Results over the international break mean that Sunderland dropped to fourth in the League One table with games in hand still to play.