Sunderland midfielder Kieran Richardson will miss the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his left leg.
The 26-year-old has been ruled out of the final three games of the Barclays Premier League campaign after scans revealed the damage to his left fibula.
Manager Steve Bruce, who was already struggling to put a team together for Saturday's trip to Bolton, is, however hopeful that Richardson will be able to return for pre-season training.
Bruce said: 'Unfortunately, we have got to report that Kieran has a stress fracture in his left fibula.
'We X-rayed him after the game against West Brom and then subsequently scanned him two or three days later. The scans and the X-rays revealed nothing at all apart from a badly bruised bone.
'Unfortunately, what the medical people are telling me is that they [stress fractures] can appear within 10 days to three weeks.
'Consequently, we re-scanned him on Thursday when we detected that unfortunately, the boy has got a stress fracture and will miss the rest of the season.
'But we hope he is going to be joining in pre-season.'
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