Sunderland's hopes of achieving automatic promotion to the Championship suffered a massive blow yesterday as they slumped to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Wigan Athletic.
Despite entering the clash as favourites due to the fact that the Latics are fighting against relegation this season, the Black Cats were unable to deliver the goods at the DW Stadium.
Charlie Wyke's 23rd league goal of the season was cancelled out by Will Keane's strike in the first-half before Wigan sealed all three points thanks to Callum Lang's effort in the 58th minute.
As a result of this setback, Sunderland missed out on the opportunity to close the gap between them and promotion rivals Peterborough United.
Currently five points adrift of Posh, time is running out for the Black Cats in their bid to secure a top-two finish in League One.
Originally set to feature for Sunderland in Tuesday's clash with Wigan, defender Conor McLaughlin was forced to watch on from the sidelines after picking up an injury during the warm-up.
The Northern Ireland international underwent hernia surgery earlier this year and has been given injections in order to play in recent weeks.
Making reference to McLaughlin, Sunderland manager Lee Johnson has admitted that whilst he doesn't know the full extent of the defender's latest issue, it may be related to his previous injury.
Speaking to ChronicleLive following his side's defeat to Wigan about the 29-year-old, the Black Cats boss said: "He had a hernia problem on one side and an injection in that, and that has left a weakness on the other side.
"I don't know whether it will settle down or whether he will have to go again, but it was pretty frustrating because there were no warning signs.
"Just as soon as he started warming-up, he said 'I can't run'."
GIVEMESPORT's Joshua Cole says...
This is unquestionably a blow for Sunderland as McLaughlin has featured regularly as a starter as well as a substitute in recent months.
Currently averaging an impressive WhoScored match rating of 6.91 in League One, the defender would have been hoping to play a major role in the club's push for promotion between now and the end of the season.
However, McLaughlin now faces a nervous wait to see when he will be able to return to action.
In the former Millwall man's absence, Johnson may have to turn to Luke O'Nien for inspiration during the club's upcoming fixtures.
Whilst the 26-year-old has been used predominately as a central-defender this season, he is capable of operating in a full-back role having played in this particular position on 58 occasions during his career.News Now - Sport News