Niall Huggins has suffered yet another setback in his return from injury and Tony Mowbray must now consider ditching the Sunderland sick note for good.
The young defender joined the Black Cats from Leeds United in 2021, signing a four-year deal at the Stadium of Light, but injury issues have seriously limited his first-team appearances thus far.
In total, the 22-year-old has managed just five first-team appearances during his time in the northeast, with only one of those coming in the Championship so far this campaign.
Lyndon Gooch and Trai Hume have both moved ahead of the Welshman in the pecking order at right-back in Mowbray’s side and it seems difficult to imagine him getting too many more opportunities in the second tier this season.
Huggins has endured a plethora of injury issues over the past year and a half, with a back fracture keeping him sidelined for a significant period last season, while a knee injury has put him out of action in the current campaign.
Amid Sunderland’s current defensive injury crisis, which sees the likes of Gooch, Danny Batth, Denis Cirkin and Ajibola Alese all sidelined, Mowbray will have been relying on Huggins to be a viable option for him at full-back.
However, he once again let his manager down by picking up another knock ahead of the Black Cats’ game against Wigan Athletic, continuing a worrying trend for the youngster.
“Unfortunately Niall Huggins is injured, he’s agitated a little problem in his ankle. It’s not serious and it’s not a long issue – but he won’t be able to travel with us. That adds to our defensive issues, he did so well against Birmingham City before the break.”
The former Blackburn Rovers boss was certainly impressed when Huggins did make his Championship debut in that game against Birmingham City, signing his praises when he missed out on the squad to face Millwall after the World Cup break.
“Huggins didn’t even make the bench [against Millwall], but he has been out for a long, long, time and he was amazing against Birmingham.”
Football is a ruthless business and while Huggins has impressed on his rare opportunities in the team, Sunderland cannot afford to keep such a seemingly injury-prone at the club.
Therefore, Mowbray should definitely look to get rid of the 22-year-old in next month’s transfer window.