Ferdinand set to miss festive games
Sunderland fear central defender Anton Ferdinand could be out for a month with a hamstring injury.
Ferdinand limped out of the goalless draw with Fulham and could miss the busy Christmas period.
The injury is a fresh blow to Sunderland manager Steve Bruce who was already without centre-backs Titus Bramble and Michael Turner until the new year.
Nedum Onuoha will therefore have a key role to play in the coming weeks, and he is readying himself for an important run of games.
North-west quartet Bolton, Manchester United, Blackpool and Bolton await the Black Cats between this Saturday and New Year's Day.
And Onuoha told the club's official website, www.safc.com: "The opportunity is there to get points on the board, and with the ambition this side has we want to bag as many as we can.
"Bolton are flying high at the moment but they are only two points ahead of us. Obviously they're doing a lot of things well at the moment so we are going to have to give 110% on the day."