SUNDERLAND'S defensive crisis has deepened, with Jenson Seelt facing a long spell on the sidelines after suffering a significant knee injury - leaving Mike Dodds with just one available centre-half for Saturday's crucial game against QPR.

"Gutted" Seelt revealed the hammer-blow in a post on his Instagram account and the Dutchman says he'll be out for "a long period of time" after suffering the injury in Saturday's 4-2 defeat at Southampton.

The summer signing has been called upon in recent weeks, with Dan Ballard and Luke O'Nien having both served suspensions, while the likes of Aji Alese, Dennis Cirkin and Niall Huggins are long-term absentees. After Ballard was forced off in the defeat at Southampton with a hamstring injury, interim head coach Mike Dodds was already stretched at centre-back before news of Seelt's major setback.


It leaves Dodds with just one fit, recognised centre-back in Leo Hjelde for the crunch visit of QPR, with the struggling Black Cats in desperate need of a result after six defeats on the bounce.

Norwegian Hjelde has been operating at left-back since his arrival from Leeds United in January but will now undoubtedly have to be moved inside on Saturday, with Seelt missing, O'Nien set to serve the second of his two game ban and Ballard a major doubt.

"I'm gutted to share the news that I suffered a knee injury during the game against Southampton," Seelt confirmed on Instagram.

"This has taken me by surprise and I will be out for a long period of time.

"For now, I need to focus on my recovery and do everything in my power to come back better and stronger than ever. In all difficulties during life there are lessons and things to turn into positivity."

News of the injury will do little to alleviate pressure and worries on Wearside on the back of the six game losing run. Interim head coach Dodds - who is due to speak to the media on Thursday - continues to search for his first point since taking over as caretaker for a third time. 

The Black Cats have fallen out of play-off contention in recent weeks and now trail the top six by 11 points. They're only nine points above the relegation zone.

Seelt has made 17 appearances for Sunderland this season - including 11 as a starter, since arriving from Dutch side PSV Eindhoven in the summer, but he now looks unlikely to play again this season.