Nicky Butt, the Newcastle midfielder, will be out of action until the new year after a scan revealed tendinitis in his hamstring.
The defensive midfielder will be out for up to six weeks after doctors finally diagnosed a problem which has hampered him since his £2.5m move from Manchester United during the summer.
The Magpies believe Butt arrived from Old Trafford with the problem, but are confident he can recover by resting. "He must rest for between four and six weeks - he has tendinitis in the hamstring where it joins his backside, so that's not great news for us," said the Newcastle manager, Graeme Souness.
"He's extremely disappointed. I think he arrived with it. It's been niggling him for a while and it's not had a chance to settle down. It's an enormous blow for us."
Butt will be joined on the sidelines by his captain, Alan Shearer, for Saturday's difficult Premiership trip to Chelsea. Shearer has had to admit defeat in his attempt to return early from a thigh strain and, like Andy O'Brien, who is suffering from a hamstring injury, could be back for the game against Portsmouth at St James' Park next weekend.
Robbie Elliott and Ronny Johnsen have shaken off knee and groin injuries respectively to be included in the squad for Stamford Bridge.Reuse content