SUNDERLAND manager Lee Johnson admits he doesn't know when he'll see his injured players back in action as the manager ponders his options for Tuesday night. 

The Black Cats swiftly return to action when they make the trip to Crewe Alexandra but they'll be taking an injury hit squad with them. 

Aiden McGeady, Lynden Gooch, Leon Dajaku and Nathan Broadhead were all missing for the win over Gillingham. Matters have been made worse by the fact that Elliot Embleton was shown a red card and will be suspended for the match against Crewe.

While Sunderland and co look to cope with the loss of numbers, Johnson has been encouraged by the recent performances of the youngsters in the Papa John's Trophy,  which could be a potential avenue to explore in the coming games.

When asked about his injured players, Johnson said: “We’ll have to see. At the weekend, you commit to focusing on the team and the starting eleven and the physio is back at AOL.

“We’ll have to try and manufacture that and try and fast track them if possible but like I say the good thing is, the young boys have done really well in the Papa Johns.

“Putting Will (Harris) on there didn’t faze me. I was going to put Denver (Hume) on wide and take Rosco (Ross Stewart) off but we just wanted that extra couple of inches in height.

“After 20 minutes with ten men, I think the most important thing. Pretty much that eleven minus Elly (Elliot Embleton) is going to start again. We’ve got no choice really but we’ll be alright. We just have to find tactical solutions like we have all season.

“We started off the season with no full-backs and we found a solution so we’ll try and do that again.

There is no current timeframe on Aiden McGeady's return to the squad while Frederik Alves was not in the matchday squad at the Priestfield Stadium. 

“I think he’s (Aiden McGeady) probably 50-50. 70-30 for Goochy and so on and so forth for the lads moving forward.                                                                    

“He (Alves) just felt something in his glutes yesterday. He feels he needs a couple of days for it to settle down.

“We’re not sure when he will return, we’ll have to see."