Jozy Altidore misses latest Sunderland game due to illness — Could it mean a transfer is close?

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Could Jozy Altidore’s 18-month-long Sunderland nightmare be creeping closer to a merciful end?

Altidore’s played all of 304 minutes for Sunderland this Premier League season, so it came as little surprise when the 25-year-old American forward was left out of the team altogether for Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat to Liverpool.

[ FULL RECAP: Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool ]

Manager Gus Poyet may simply not trust a $13-million player who’s scored just one league goal in his 18 months at the club. It could have just as easily had nothing to do with rumors surrounding Altidore’s impending departure from the club and reports that he’s in negotiations with a number of MLS clubs.

Then came Sunderland’s official announcement as to why Altidore was out on Saturday.

We’ll know more about Altidore’s club future either this week or next Saturday when Sunderland takes on Tottenham Hotspur (Watch live on Live Extra, 10 am ET). If Altidore is still out due to “illness,” it could be a sign that progress is being made and the last thing Sunderland want is for the player to get injured and cost them a healthy transfer fee.

[ Transfer rumor roundup: Altidore to Toronto, Giovinco to Tottenham? ]

Of course, Altidore could have very well been legitimately sick and unable to play on Saturday. Illness or no illness, Altidore’s still on his way out of Sunderland, and that’s great news for him and the US national team.