WES BROWN has gone straight back on the treatment table, despite earning a place on the bench against Arsenal.
Brown made his first appearance in a matchday squad for 18 months last Saturday after he was an unused substitute against the Gunners.
Sunderland head coach Paolo Di Canio wanted to give the 33-year-old an extra motivational boost on the comeback trail by including him among the substitutes after the former England international had returned to full training unscathed.
But even then, Brown was still struggling with a minor calf problem and he didn’t feel confident entering the fray in the second half when Valentin Roberge was considering coming off through injury.
That has seen Brown sidelined again this week, with the centre-half unavailable for tomorrow’s crunch basement clash at West Brom.
Di Canio told the Echo: “I wanted to send him on the field, but he wasn’t ready.
“I brought him with me on the bench to let him smell the atmosphere again.
“It was important for him and for us.
“But he had a little problem in his calf muscle.
“At the end of the game, we didn’t need a defender.
“But when we were at 1-1, Roberge started to feel his knee because he had an inflammation problem.
“I asked Wes how he felt, but, to be honest, he wasn’t completely confident.
“I said to Roberge, he had to carry on.
“But there are many chances like that during the game when you feel like you might have to change things.
“Wes would have had experience and we could defend and then counter, but it wasn’t possible.
“Now we’ve given him a few more days’ rest to be sure he can get over this problem.”
Brown has not featured competitively for Sunderland since sustaining a knee injury in January. 2012.
The ex-Manchester United man made an encouraging return during pre-season and looked to have put his injury problems behind him after featuring in both encounters in the Barclays Asia Trophy, in Hong Kong.
But Brown then missed the final friendly outing in Denmark with a knee problem which affected him during the opening weeks of the season.