Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio could have just 12 outfield players available for selection for his side's crunch final game of the season against top four chasing Tottenham Hotspur.
On-loan defender Danny Rose is set to miss the trip to White Hart Lane because he is ineligible to face his parent club, meaning seven senior first teamers won't be available for the crucial clash.
Craig Gardner’s sending off last night in the 1-1 draw against fellow strugglers Stoke City means manager Di Canio will be left to pick the bones from his squad with just two remaining fixtures against Southampton and Spurs.
Gardner’s suspension follows Stephane Sessegnon’s straight-red for a tackle in last Monday’s heavy defeat against Aston Villa, and the Italian believes his side’s discipline will have to improve if they have any chance of surviving the drop.
“We have to be careful and to handle our aggression. It is obvious we have to stop what we are doing with yellow and red cards otherwise we will be in trouble,” said Di Canio. “We don’t have to help others, we have to help ourselves.”
The Italian has praised the Mackem supporters for their efforts in the battle against the drop however, after they roared their side on to what could be a vital point in their battle to stay in the Premier League last night (Monday).
Di Canio told the official Black Cats website: “When I hear the fans I feel as though I have my family in the stands, they are amazing.
“They are something unique. This is why with the combination of these fans and the players’ fighting spirit we deserve to stay up.”