MICHAEL BEALE has played down fears that Dan Ballard might have suffered a serious injury in the closing stages of Sunderland’s 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough.

Ballard appeared to be suffering from pain in his shoulder after landing awkwardly in the last few minutes at the Riverside.

He was in obvious discomfort as he left the field after the final whistle, but Beale does not think he has suffered a serious issue and expect him to be available for next weekend’s home game against Plymouth Argyle.


The Sunderland boss said: “Dan is no southern softie, so he'll be alright! Don't come back to me if that proves not to be the case but speaking to him there, he's just landed awkwardly after taking a knock. He will be fine by this time next week, I think.”

While Beale was happy with the spirited way in which his side battled back on Teesside, he admits to being bitterly disappointed at the concession of yet another goal from a set-piece.

He said: “It's fair to say they (Middlesbrough) started the second half much better than us and we've just talked about that in the dressing room. It’s not good enough to start off like that.

“Then we concede off a set-play. It's a bit unlucky with the ricochet, but it's happening too often to us now in big games, so we have to work on that.”