Patrick Van Aanholt was withdrawn from Sunderland’s starting lineup less than an hour before kick off last Sunday and until now mystery has shrouded the reasons why.
Now we know why.
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Initially Sunderland manager David Moyes said after the Black Cats’ 1-0 defeat at Tottenham that it was “a health issue” and he didn’t want to go into it further.
However on Tuesday he confirmed that Van Aanholt, 26, was withdrawn at the last minute after Sunderland were made aware of routine heart scan results by the English FA.
Speaking to reporters, here’s what Moyes had to say about the situation.
“All we can say is the player has done some standard tests with a cardiologist and those tests meant that the FA had to check them,” Moyes explained. “We are just surprised that the FA panel didn’t contact me or contact my doctor until 3:50pm on Sunday afternoon. I have never in my career been put in a situation like that ever, so we had that to deal with. We just can’t understand why the message would come to us at that time, 30 minutes before the kick-off. It was completely outside our control, but it was in our control because we knew we had to make the correct decision for the player and for the football club. We had to do that.”
Moyes also confirmed that Van Aanholt would travel with Sunderland to London ahead of their League Cup game against Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday and that the Dutch international left back has undergone further tests. Moyes has yet to decide if Van Aanholt will be available for selection.
It was a bizarre scene on the White Hart Lane pitch before the game on Sunday as Moyes first spoke with officials with a worried look on his face, then got a message onto the pitch where his players were completing warm ups that Jason Denayer would now be starting at left back instead of PVA. Van Aanholt was then seen being informed by Denayer that he wasn’t starting and the Dutchman had a very confused look on his face.
You have to applaud Moyes’ quick thinking to take no chances with Van Aanholt but until the issue is resolved and more tests are run, there’s no way PVA should step back on the pitch.
Yes, that will be a big loss for Sunderland who is without a win in their opening five PL games, with Van Aanholt scoring five goals in 36 PL appearances in the last two seasons for the Black Cats after joining from Chelsea in 2014-15.