Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole ruled out for four months with hip injury
Sunderland skipper Lee Cattermole will be out of action for four months after undergoing surgery in America to address a long-standing hip problem.
The 28-year-old midfielder, who has made just three appearances to date this season, had a procedure to repair a torn cartilage in his hip on Monday and now faces a long haul back to fitness.
Manager David Moyes said: "Lee Cattermole had an operation in America on Monday on a torn cartilage in his hip and will be out for four months. He's out there just now, coming back in the next day or two, I think."
The news came as a significant blow to Moyes, who has been without one of the club's most consistent performers in recent seasons for much of his reign on Wearside.
The setback arrived after a lengthy treatment process which eventually got to the root of the problem.
Moyes said: "It's a big blow because we have had hernias, we have had epidurals, we have had other things done but, by all accounts, we have found a tear in his cartilage in his hip which has now been repaired."
Cattermole, who joined the Black Cats in a £6million switch from Wigan during the summer of 2009, has been a key figure in the club's successful survival fights over the last four years.
But he was last able to take to the field for the 3-2 Premier League defeat by Crystal Palace on September 24.