FLW looks at three Sunderland players that Tony Mowbray could turn to following Dan Ballard’s injury.
With injuries hampering his season in 2022/23, so far this campaign, Dan Ballard has been a firm regular in the Sunderland XI.
Indeed, the 24-year-old has started all 11 of the club’s Championship fixtures so far, even getting on the scoresheet on two occasions.
His performances clearly have not gone unnoticed, either, with Ballard continuing to be selected for the Northern Ireland national team in recent times.
In their most recent outing, Ballard was even given the honour of captaining his country when Jonny Evans was taken off the field – no doubt a moment he will never forget.
However, despite the above, Sunderland have now been dealt an injury scare with regards to their centre-half after he missed Northern Ireland’s clash with Slovenia on Tuesday.
What is the latest on Dan Ballard’s fitness at Sunderland?
According to ChroniceLive, whilst away on international duty, Ballard appears to have picked up a minor thigh injury.
Indeed, Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill told the media on Ballard, via ChroniceLive: “He [Ballard] woke up with a tightness in his thigh which we have just had to manage over the last 48 hours,”
“It’s not like he was playing through something because obviously, we could have taken him off, but he didn’t alert us to anything.
“It is just something that has come on post-game.”
Whilst Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray will hoping Ballard can be fit for the weekend, it does bring about the possibility that he may need to be replaced in the starting line-up.
With that said, below, we’ve run through three of Mowbray’s options briefly.
With Tony Mowbray not rotating his central defenders often this season, whoever comes in for Ballard is going to be relatively inexperienced Championship wise this campaign.
Jenson Seelt has at least made two substitute appearances off the bench for Sunderland in the league this campaign, though.
The 20-year-old played for an hour in the defeat to Middlesbrough prior to the international break and despite his tender age, could be whom Mowbray turns to if Ballard needs replacing.
Of course, another player that Mowbray could turn to is another Sunderland summer recruit, Nectarios Triantis.
Triantis, though, is yet to play a minute of Championship action since his arrival at the Stadium of Light.
The Aussie defender, like Seelt above, is just 20-years-old, although he did start in the EFL Cup defeat to Crewe back in August.
Although not a totally natural replacement, Trai Hume could also come into consideration for Tony Mowbray if he needs to replace Dan Ballard, particularly if only for one match or so.
Hume has filled in at centre-back for the club previously, and in a back four, too, meaning Mowbray could continue to keep the shape preferred so far this season.
Hume is clearly far more experienced than the two, more natural, options above, which makes him a viable third option for Mowbray ahead of the weekend.
It would, of course, leave a vacancy to fill at right-back, though, which may lead to further shuffling around elsewhere in the XI.
— Daniel Ballard (@dg_ballard) October 14, 2023