Sir Alex Ferguson is crossing his fingers Manchester United can limp through the next week before finally seeing their defensive woes start to ease.
With Chris Smalling and Phil Jones already sidelined, Ferguson last week expressed the hope his remaining centre-halves would remain fit.
That desire was dashed on Tuesday, when it was confirmed skipper Nemanja Vidic had undergone knee surgery that will keep him out for another two months.
It leaves Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans as United's only fit central defenders for tomorrow evening's encounter with Tottenham.
And as his side also have a Champions League trip to Cluj, and a Premier League match with Newcastle before the next international break, Ferguson must feel like wrapping Ferdinand and Evans in cotton wool.
"Everyone knows the situation with our defenders," said Ferguson.
"We are having a hard time with that.
"Nemanja Vidic being out is a blow to us and we simply cannot take a risk with defenders.
"We just hope if we can get through the next two league games it will give us a little breather and we can start to get one or two of them back."
As Jones is out for a similar length of time to Vidic after undergoing the same operation, Smalling's recovery from a broken metatarsal is what Ferguson is pinning his hopes on.
The former Fulham man will not be back this weekend though, so, with Wayne Rooney recovered from his gashed thigh and Tom Cleverley finally opening his United scoring account, Ferguson may decide attack is the best form of defence against Spurs.
Cleverley could not have picked a better time to score either as England coach Gary Neville was in the stands for the 2-1 Capital One Cup win over Newcastle on Wednesday, with Roy Hodgson a week away from announcing his England squad for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland.
"It (not having scored for United) has been playing on my mind a little bit," said Cleverley.
"I have always scored goals when I have gone on loan, so it was bugging me that I had not been doing it for my club or my country.
"I have got the first one out of the way now. Hopefully they will all come at once."
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