Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Keane Backs Squad Depth

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Keane Backs Squad Depth

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

Roy Keane is confident that Sunderland's first-team squad is strong enough to cope with a mounting defensive crisis after losing the services of three senior back-line players in less than a week.

Since allowing Clive Clarke to join Coventry on loan five days ago, the Black Cats boss has seen Kenny Cunningham ruled out until the New Year with a serious knee ligament problem, while Nyron Nosworthy has suffered a hamstring injury that will prevent him from facing Hull this weekend.

Although Steve Caldwell made an encouraging 65-minute reserve-team comeback against Leeds this week, Keane is reluctant to gamble on a player who has not made a first-team appearance for almost three months.

But, while that will leave him with few options as he attempts to steer his side to their first away win in more than six weeks, the optimistic Irishman believes the Wearsiders can belie their troubles and overcome the Championship's basement club.

"I don't think that we're looking too bad in that department and I would like to think that we have enough numbers," said a manager who could return to the loan market as he seeks a short-term solution. "It is very unfortunate. Just as it looks as though we have a player (Caldwell) coming back, this happens."

Keane agreed to let Clarke move to the Ricoh Arena last weekend before the extent of Cunningham's injury was known. And, with Nosworthy having since broken down during a routine training session, the club's defensive department has been stretched to breaking point. With Stephen Wright's injured ankle expected to keep the under-employed 26-year-old out until Christmas, a manager who allowed Rory Delap to join Stoke three weeks ago can ill afford to lose any more members of his depleted back line.

Yet, despite a shortage of options, Keane is reluctant to call upon Caldwell for tomorrow's trip to the KC Stadium.

"Stevie played for 65 minutes at Leeds and he did well but I think this match is too soon for him," he said. …

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