By support

29th Dec, 2016 | 4:35pm

New blow as 22-year-old ruled out of Liverpool clash

By Matt Farr

Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has been ruled out of his team’s meeting with Liverpool on 2 January.

Pickford damaged his knee in the defeat to Manchester United on Monday, and the news comes a major boost to Liverpool, who get to test themselves against Sunderland’s backup stopper.

The 22-year-old has been arguably Sunderland’s best player this season, despite the Black Cats sitting two points adrift of safety.

The former England youth international has kept just three clean sheets this season, but has made a number of stunning saves over the course of the campaign to prevent their situation getting any worse.

Black Cats’ boss David Moyes confirmed the injury setback, revealing that Pickford would be out for up to two months.

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Sunderland’s official twitter account quoted Moyes: “We’re looking at six to eight weeks, it’s a major disappointment for him and for us because he’s been saving us points.”

Sunderland have spent much of the season in the relegation zone, and need to win against Burnley on Saturday – and rely on Arsenal beating Crystal Palace – to begin the new year outside the relegation zone.

They will need to be at their best to avoid defeat against a Liverpool side that are the Premier League’s highest goalscorers this season. From 18 games, the Reds have netted 45 goals.

The Reds are chasing the Premier League title at the end of the campaign, and are six points clear of leaders Chelsea. Once they’ve seen off the threat of Manchester City on Saturday, they will fancy themselves to pile the misery on Sunderland in the absence of their star goalkeeper.

In other Liverpool news, fans discuss on Twitter how they can replace Sadio Mane when he departs for the Africa Cup of Nations.