Roy Keane has confirmed that Michael Chopra will miss Sunderland's first three games of the season.
The striker was sent off in a pre-season friendly against Sporting Lisbon last month and it has now been decided that he will serve a suspension.
Chopra will therefore sit out the opening Premier League fixtures against Liverpool and Tottenham, as well as the Carling Cup clash with Nottingham Forest.
With Kenwyne Jones also sidelined due to injury, Keane admits that he was disappointed to lose Chopra.
"It didn't put me in the best of moods but, to be honest, I had expected it," Keane, who was sent to the stands for complaining when Chopra was dismissed, told the Sunderland Echo.
The Black Cats boss is nevertheless confident that he will be able to send out a strong side against Liverpool after bringing in a number of reinforcements this summer.
"We've brought in some quality players and they give us a few more options when it comes to who we might put out," Keane explained.
"On the injury front, Pascal Chimbonda, Kieran Richardson, Danny Higginbotham and Phil Bardsley have all shaken off niggly injuries and the only one who will definitely miss the start of the season is Dwight Yorke.
"I haven't finalised what my selection will be for Saturday's game, but the lads have been in great form in training and there's real competition for places.
"Of course, there are a few areas where we want to strengthen and I think those have been well documented.
"But I don't expect to have any new faces in by the weekend.
"That of course can change by the hour, and I know Niall Quinn and Peter Walker are working very hard in that direction.
"But I have to say that I am happy with the squad I'm taking into the new season."