Sunderland's defensive stocks are set to be depleted ahead of their next fixture against Tottenham Hotspur with Papy Djilobodji handed a suspension and Patrick van Aanholt on the brink of completing a transfer to fellow Premier League relegation battlers Crystal Palace.
Former Chelsea centre-back Djilobodji was initially charged by The Football Association (FA) with an alleged act of violent conduct last week after television cameras appeared to show his arm making contact with the face of West Bromwich Albion midfielder Darren Fletcher. The incident took place during the 86th minute of Sunderland's 2-0 defeat at The Hawthorns on 21 January and was missed by match officials.
The 28-year-old contested the charge, but the FA released a new statement on Friday (27 January) confirming that it had been found proven following an independent regulatory commission hearing.
Djilobodji is now set to serve the customary three-match ban for violent conduct as well as an additional game owing to his previous sending off against Hull City in November. It means he will be sidelined for meetings with Tottenham, Crystal Palace, Southampton and Everton.
Van Aanholt, meanwhile, is expected to complete his Sam Allardyce reunion imminently with a medical scheduled for today. Sunderland have now claimed that the left-back "advised officials that he no longer wanted to play for the club and submitted a transfer request". The BBC report that such a deal could be worth as much as £14m ($17.5m).
"If a player openly states he does not want to play for our club, then it is clear that we have a decision to make," said Sunderland chief executive Martin Bain. "In this instance and in regard to this particular player, we have done what we feel is right for Sunderland, which will always be our priority."
David Moyes has been extremely downbeat regarding Sunderland's transfer capabilities this month, tempering expectations by insisting their budget was "limited with a capital L" and that anyone brought in would be unlikely to make a big difference. The Scot subsequently added to his crop of former Everton players by signing much-maligned ex-Aston Villa defender Joleon Lescott on a short-term contract. Phil Jagielka, Bryan Oviedo and Darron Gibson have also been linked with the Black Cats of late along with Queens Park Rangers captain Nedum Onuoha.
Sunderland currently sit bottom of the Premier League and three points adrift of safety following a dismal run of four defeats from their last five top-flight matches. The fight for survival has not been aided by an extensive injury list that now includes Victor Anichebe's name alongside the likes of Jordan Pickford, Jan Kirchhoff, Duncan Watmore, Lee Cattermole, Paddy McNair and Lynden Gooch.
Javier Manquillo, Jason Denayer and Steven Pienaar could all return against Tottenham, who have an FA Cup fourth round tie against Wycombe Wanderers to negotiate before their trip to the Stadium of Light on transfer deadline day. Lamine Kone's fitness remains in question after he failed to play a single minute for the Ivory Coast before their premature exit from the Africa Cup of Nations.