Blow for Sunderland as striker faces three months on the sidelines
Sunderland striker Fabio Borini is facing up to three months on the sidelines after tearing his groin on his comeback from a toe injury.
Press Association Sport understands the 25-year-old Italian tore an adductor muscle while taking a free-kick during Saturday's 1-1 Premier League draw at Southampton, his first appearance since the opening day of the campaign.
Although the injury is a major blow, Sunderland have allayed fears the Italian could miss as many as six months, and remain hopeful he will be back in fewer than three.
The news will come as a huge blow to manager David Moyes, who spent the final few days of the summer transfer window working desperately with chief executive Martin Bain to land the players he needs to avoid another relegation scrap.
Borini will join long-term absentees Vito Mannone and Sebastian Larsson in the treatment room, while key midfielders Lee Cattermole and Jan Kirchhoff have not managed a single appearance between them so far this season.
Borini spent the 2013-14 season on loan at the Stadium of Light from Liverpool and helped the Black Cats reach the Capital One Cup final, where they were eventually beaten 3-1 by Manchester City after he had given them a first-half lead.
He returned to Anfield determined to force his way into the starting XI, but left for good in August 2015 when he finally accepted Sunderland's overtures and completed a move to Wearside for an initial £8million.
Meanwhile, Mannone's deputy Jordan Pickford has returned from international duty with England's Under-21s with a slight thigh strain, although he is expected to be fit for the home clash with Everton on September 12.