Sunderland will go into their FA Cup fourth round replay against Fulham without a specialised senior centre-forward - even if they land one before transfer deadline day. The Black Cats saw star striker Ross Stewart stretchered off in the first half of their 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage with an Achilles injury which is likely to rule their top scorer out long-term.
Stewart was the only out-and-out striker available to boss Tony Mowbray for the fourth round tie, with new loan signing Joe Gelhardt cup-tied having played for his parent club Leeds United against Cardiff City in the third round. Stewart's injury means Gelhardt is now Sunderland's only fit centre-forward and the Black Cats will go back into the market to bring in another before the transfer window closes on Tuesday evening.
But any new recruit would be ineligible when Fulham visit the Stadium of Light because the rules of the competition state that only players who were registered in time to be eligible for the original tie can play in any replay. The rules state: 'All players must have been eligible to play in the original tie in order to play in a match which is replayed, postponed, or ordered to be replayed.'
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The rules go on to explain that players who were suspended for the original tie can take part in a replay, which means Sunderland defender Luke O'Nien will be available for the replay as he will serve the final game of his three-match ban when the Black Cats take on Millwall in the league on Saturday. With Stewart out of action, Gelhardt cup-tied, and any new signing ineligible, Mowbray will most likely play on-loan Manchester United forward Amad as a central striker, as he did against Fulham once Stewart had gone off.
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