Undoubtedly one of the most important players in the team, Pickford is out with a knee injury until late February.
Pickford has a presence and confidence in goal that simply demands a little bit of awe. Not many players can look so stoic when presented with Sunderland's tragedy of a defence. Great reaction times have saved us a point or two and his kicking ability shouldn't be understated either. Whilst Mannone plays whack-a-mole with various crowd members in his attempts at getting the ball up the pitch, Pickford has single-handedly energised our attack on occasion. Let us hope his return signals a beginning of the annual relegation escape.
Victor, I am sorry for ever doubting you. When you arrived I was sceptical, but now you are gone 'til April and I'm not sure what Sunderland can do without your hulking presence.
His combination work with Defoe is great to watch, but that fact he often holds his own even more so. His strength and power are two qualities Sunderland are in desperate need of. His re-introduction will be a huge relief for everyone and hopefully take a little pressure away from Defoe.
The American returned to the bench on Tuesday after recovering from his malleolar injury - no idea what that means but it makes me hungry - Gooch may be player that flies under the radar. Rising from the Under-23 team and into the first, most of his appearances have been on the right-wing; the position most frequently occupied by Borini or Watmore.
His technical skill and pace are two valued assets of his game, but where he is lacking is in vision and experience. A little game time and solid coaching should help him make a serious impact. As a promising player, I would hate to see him go waste simply because Moyes is too blinded with the need for experience.
Lee Cattermole and Jan Kirchhoff
Lee is out with a hip injury - hopefully returning in March - and Jan is having more cartilage trouble. These two are a valuable midfield couple. Until the injury crisis, they were the core of our team, immovable from the team-sheet.
The two work so well together because they are core opposites. Cattermole plays an aggressive game mostly ball winning and playing simple passes. Jan is reserved, shielding the back line and moving the game forwards when he can. The former, in particular, leads with a vigour and dedication that is necessary in the coming months. Jan's vision would solve numerous issues in midfield, in-particular, the link from defence to offence that is currently so lack-lustre.
Poor Patrick. The boy had only played twelve games when his cruciate ligament gave out, likely keeping him from playing again this season. Though I think it is safe to say he didn't set the world on fire, he did score two in the EFL cup. Beyond that, he often seemed to be left stranded, unable to link the midfield to attack with some poor choices. Before the injury he did seem to be slowly settling into the team getting a few interceptions here and there.
He would be an incredibly useful player to have available. His positional versatility - he has played as a centre-back, right-back and in various midfield roles - is something Sunderland are in desperate need of with Denayer and Rodwell looking so consistently shaky. Let's be honest, no one would take a second glace at exchanging Rodwell would they?
Another out until the end of the season with a knee injury, in Watmore's case it is a real tragedy. A right-winger by trade, he always brings a youthful energy to proceedings. His actual quality on the ball is incredibly frustrating, but I feel it is part of his charm at this point. That's no excuse, it just cements my appreciation of the player in a very British manner.
His attitude is unquestionable. He is the definition of an impact sub with his pace and ambition. With Sunderland lacking any impact from the bench, it makes it all the worse that he won't be able to bring that burning fiery passion to the team.
So! There we go. Those are my two cents. Agree? Disagree? Let us know!