Sunderland skipper Dean Whitehead has been handed a boost with the news that he could be back in action by November.

It was feared Whitehead would miss most of the season after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury.

However, recent scans have shown the injury is improving and that Whitehead could be back in training by November as he does not need to undergo surgery.

"I was delighted to get some good news," Whitehead told the club's official matchday programme .

"I was pencilled in to have surgery but when my knee was looked at again it was revealed that I don't need it.

"I could be back in training by November. This is fantastic news for me."