SUNDERLAND defender Frederik Alves has contracted Covid which has put talks regarding his loan spell at the club on hold.

Alves has been short of game time since joining the club for the season on loan from Premier League West Ham United. He’s made 10 appearances in total but he’s only featured in three League One games.

A few weeks ago, Johnson confirmed that Alves was absent from their 5-1 Carabao Cup quarter final defeat to Arsenal thanks to a disciplinary issue in training. It’s understood the coaching staff had become increasingly concerned with his attitude in training with the manager set to recommend that he be sent back to East London to free up another spot for a loan player.

Johnson has also made mention of the possibility of sending loan players back following their 3-0 win over Doncaster Rovers on 27th December where Alves was on the bench.

However, following a recent surge of Covid across the country, Alves has been named as one of the few players in the Sunderland squad to have tested positive for the virus which has temporarily shelved discussions about his future.

Johnson said: “Well Freddy has contracted Covid. That’s another one to add to our list.

“Those conversations have obviously been going on in the background. Obviously the timing of that is key but in the short term, that will be pushed into the long grass or the medium grass on that decision having discussed it with everybody including the player.”

The signing of defender Trai Hume will further weaken Alves’ case for a place in the first-team and it looks increasingly likely he will head back to the Hammers. The Premier League side may well decide to send him to another club in search of game time.