Sunderland player set to miss pre-season tour after Tony Mowbray gamble
Aji Alese is set to miss the start of the season due to a recurrence of a thigh injury after being rushed back for Sunderland’s play-off semi-final
Sunderland defender Aji Alese will miss the Championship club’s pre-season tour of the US due to the recurrence of a thigh injury after he was rushed back for the second leg of their play-off semi-final defeat to Luton Town.
Black Cats boss Tony Mowbray confirmed the news ahead of their opening pre-season fixtures this week, with Alese not set to be fit for the start of the 2023/24 Sunderland were hampered by injury problems last season, which left Mowbray options limited for the Championship play-offs.
The experienced coach was without star striker Ross Stewart, midfield general Corry Evans, first-choice centre-back duo Danny Batth and Dan Ballard, and left-back Dennis Cirkin, among others, for the two-legged tie against Luton.
They won the first leg at the Stadium of Light 2-1 but came undone against a physical Hatters lineup in the decider at Kenilworth Road – with their makeshift backline ultimately unable to deal with the power of Rob Edwards’ team.
Aji Alese injury update
Alese was another of the players that missed the first leg of the play-off semi-final due to injury but was rushed back to make an impact from the bench in the second leg as Mowbray looked to counteract their hosts’ physical superiority.
The 22-year-old’s involvement did not have the desired effect, with Sunderland failing to make the Wembley final, and Mowbray has now revealed that the defender is set to miss the start of the new season after a recurrence of the thigh injury that troubled him last term.
Speaking to Chronicle Live, the Black Cats boss confirmed that Alese would not be travelling with the team on their pre-season tour of the US.
He said: “Aji is quite a way away, he won’t be coming to the US with us which is a frustration because we gambled a little bit on him in that last game of last season against Luton and tried to get him up to speed to give us some physicality in the team.
“It was a team that, on paper, was outmuscled by a much more physical team so we tried to get him in and he suffered a recurrence really, which is not good for anybody. Aji is going to be a miss.”
Stewart and Evans are both expected to miss the start of the new season as well but Embleton and Cirkin could both be fit for the opener against Ipswich Town on Sunday 6th August.
Mowbray has signed two new 20-year-old defenders this summer – Jenson Seelt from PSV Eindhoven and Nectarios Triantis from Central Coast Mariners – in a bid to add more depth at the back.
Sunderland 2023/24 pre-season plans
The Black Cats ramp up their preparations for the new season this weekend with games against local non-league sides South Shields and Gateshead on Saturday before heading to the US.
They’re due to face San Antonio (15/07), New Mexico United (19/07), and North Carolina (21/07) before returning home for two more friendlies.
Mowbray’s men will host LaLiga outfit RCD Mallorca at the Stadium of Light on Saturday 29th July before heading away to Hartlepool United on Tuesday 1st August.