Sunderland have confirmed teenage midfielder Jordan Henderson will miss the next six weeks after damaging ankle ligaments against Wigan earlier this month.
Henderson, who has been a shining light in what is turning into another season of underachievement for the Wearsiders, sustained the injury shortly after setting up Kenwyne Jones for Sunderland's equaliser in the 1-1 draw on February 6. Medical tests had to be delayed for swelling around the joint to subside with Black Cats boss Steve Bruce confirming the length of the lay-off.
Bruce told the club's official website, www.safc.com: "Obviously we're glad there's no serious damage, but to be without a player like Jordan for six weeks is a blow."
He added: "We can now get on with the rehabilitation process. Jordan is keeping his spirits up and he is prepared to work hard while he's out."
Capped at youth level by England, 19-year-old Henderson has clocked up 28 appearances this season, scoring twice.
His absence leaves Bruce with a midfield headache ahead of this Saturday's testing trip to Arsenal.
Lee Cattermole and David Meyler are suspended following their red cards against Portsmouth, Steed Malbranque is doubtful with a chest injury while Andy Reid is battling a hamstring problem.