Phillips bemoans 'big blow' after Sunderland lose Huggins for 'three months minimum'
Kevin Phillips has admitted Sunderland have been dealt a “big blow” with Niall Huggins ruled out until the new year.
However, the Black Cats legend, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed the 20-year-old’s injury could provide an opportunity for a highly-rated Sunderland youngster to blossom.
As quoted by The Chronicle on Thursday (October 14th), Sunderland boss Lee Johnson confirmed that Huggins will be out for “three months minimum” with a stress fracture in his back.
The defender has made four appearances for Sunderland so far this season, impressing in the League Cup and League One.
The Wales under-21 international has also shown off his impressive versatility having played at left-back in September’s rout of Cheltenham.
Phillips wished Huggins a “speedy recovery” but insisted the injury could “open the door” for another starlet to impress.
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“It’s a big blow,” he told Football Insider‘s Ewan Kingsbury.
“I’ve been lucky enough to watch him live a few times this season, and he’s been very good.
“Naturally, when you lose a player as impressive as him, it is a blow.
“But the good thing for Sunderland is they do have quite a lot of squad depth. I think it could be the case of one door closing and another opening.
“We saw the other night with them beating Manchester United [in the EFL Trophy] that they do have some good youngsters.
“It’s a chance for someone else to take that position and make it their own.
“I do feel bad for the kid, he’s had a good start to life at the club and I wish him a speedy recovery.”
Huggins joined Sunderland from Leeds in the summer.
Carl Winchester has been used in the right-back berth this season, while 22-year-old Kenton Richardson assumed the role in the EFL Trophy win this week.