Sunderland Echo

Hernia operation set to rule out McLaughlin for a number of weeks

- Phil Smith @Phil__Smith

Conor McLaughlin is facing an extended lay-off with a hernia problem, but Lee Johnson does not expect to search for a replacemen­t in the transfer market.

The Northern Irishman needs an operation after playing through the pain barrier in recent weeks.

Denver Hume's hamstring injury on the other flank is set force Johnson to recruit this month, but on the right he is comfortabl­e with the options he has.

"Conor is an excellent right-back and a good footballer," Johnson said.

"I'm asking these full- backs to press high, press early and get us on the front foot. They've taken to that.

"He's potentiall­y going to be out for a while now because he needs a hernia operation and has done for a while.

"He can't sprint at the moment so he's one who I think has shown top character to put in the level of performanc­es that he has with the pain he's had.

"I've had a hernia myself and it can just get too much and you can't sprint like you used to.

"It's a position where, Bailey [Wright] could play there, Jordan Willis could play there, Josh Scowen could play there," he added.

"Dan Neil could even play there with the way we want to play.

"So I'm very comfortabl­e, particular­ly in comparison to left-back."

Sunderland full-back Conor McLaughlin is facing a spell on the sidelines.

Dion Sanderson is another potential option, while Johnson is also open to continuing with Max Power in the role.

The midfielder has impressed in the last two games with his ability to make overlappin­g runs and deliver crosses into the box.

"I think we've always got to look and make sure we don't rule out positional changes.

"I think that with Max, it

was interestin­g talking to him that he was due to play the full season at Wigan Athletic as a right-back under Paul Cook.

"But they then signed Reece James from Chelsea which stopped that.

"I played with a player, Bradley Orr, who was a good midfielder and an even better right-back.

" That's because they're comfortabl­e with the game in front of them.

"I think he's got all the attributes, he's fit and can go forward, back for 90 minutes and he's a good footballer."

Johnson is also hopeful that Luke O'Nien is closing in on a return from a dislocated shoulder, offering him another option in that position.

"There's always a risk there could be recurrence so we just have to go with his confidence levels," Johnson said.

"He's full of enthusiasm, demanding of the coaches and always wants to do more.

"I obviously love that but we just have to put the reins on him and protect him. All being well, I'd hope he'd be available from ten days to two weeks."

Johnson also confirmed on Wednesday that Danny Graham missed out on the 2-0 Papa John's Trophy win over Port Vale due to a potential knee issue, which will be assessed in the coming days.

"He's got a bit of a niggle on the outside of his right knee," Johnson said.

“We have to make a decision on whether or not to send him for a scan.

“He didn't feel it was that bad, but we probably need to look into it [further].”

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