The Black Cats midfielder, who was used as a substitute in the midweek FA Cup third-round replay defeat by Bolton following a lengthy spell on the sidelines with knee ligament damage, jarred the knee in a practice match on Thursday and is likely to miss the Barclays Premier League trip to Wigan.
Manager Martin O'Neill said: "He had a bit of a setback there. We are certainly hoping it's not as long as it was before, that would be terrible.
"But it is a setback and I would say he would be doubtful for Saturday."
- Sports & Recreation