Cats hit by fresh Campbell blow

The Black Cats have confirmed that the 23-year-old, who has missed

all but four games of the current season with cruciate ligament

damage, needs a second operation. Manager Steve Bruce revealed his

fears over Campbell last week, and they have now been realised, and

with loan signing Danny Welbeck struggling with a hamstring

problem, he faces heading into Saturday’s crucial Premier League

clash with Wigan with only one fit senior striker. Campbell

initially suffered his injury during the 1-0 victory over

Manchester City on August 29, and was in line to return against the

same opposition on April 3 when he twisted his knee again in

training. The club’s medics had hoped he had suffered only a minor

setback, but examinations revealed the full extent of the damage

and that surgery was the only option. Campbell will have his

operation just 48 hours after keeper Craig Gordon headed into

theatre for a procedure to address his own knee problem. The

Scotland international will be sidelined for between four and six

months. Sunderland have paid a heavy cost for injuries this season,

and in particular knee problems, to the extent that Bruce has

launched an inquiry into the reasons. The likes of Titus Bramble,

who is unlikely to play again before the end of the current

campaign, Michael Turner, David Meyler and Welbeck have also

endured lengthy lay-offs for similar reasons. Fitness concerns in

general have had a seriously detrimental effect on the club’s hopes

of securing a top-10 finish, and defeat at Birmingham on Saturday –

their eighth in nine league games – left them sitting in 15th place

in the table, just five clear of the relegation zone with as many

fixtures left to play. Bruce admitted Campbell, a £3.5million

signing from Manchester United during the summer of 2009, could be

out for a year. He told the Sunderland Echo: “Fraizer gets operated

on today. He will be out for 12 months. “He was out on the training

ground yesterday having a bit of banter with the players. He’s

taken it okay because he is strong mentally. “Thankfully, with his

strength of mind, we think he will be okay. I hope he will be. “If

there’s anyone mentally tough enough, it’s him.”