Aston Villa face having to continue paying on-loan Jermaine Jenas' wages for the rest of the season despite the midfielder being ruled out for six months with an Achilles injury.
The Tottenham player underwent surgery last night on the setback suffered during last weekend's home clash with Manchester United, Jenas' full debut for Villa.
He made only two other appearances as a substitute against Norwich and Swansea after his temporary switch from White Hart Lane in August.
But Villa boss Alex McLeish believes the agreement with Spurs will have to be honoured despite Jenas returning to his parent club.
McLeish said: "I think you do an agreement with a club and you take that on as far as the agreement goes (lasts).
"The club which takes him (a player) on loan has to fulfil that agreement.
"Jermaine will go back to Tottenham but we've still got an agreement with Tottenham."
McLeish had high hopes of Jenas providing the creating spark lacking in midfield.
But calf and Achilles setbacks restricted his appearances before the injury sustained during the first half against the Red Devils.
McLeish said: "Unfortunately his career never got started here at Villa and I really feel for Jermaine.
"He's not got his career kicked off at Villa. During the first day of training, he looked the real deal and I've not seen that since because of some niggles with his Achilles and calf.
"This latest injury is a hammer blow to him and the club.
"We tried everything to get him to a level of fitness and he had one problem after another so we are really gutted for the lad and he is now out for the rest of the season.
"It is pretty doubtful he will play for us again. The timescale is six months according to the specialists and it is tragic news for Jermaine."
McLeish admits he will have to spend carefully and wisely during January with only limited funds available.
He said: "It is about trading carefully. The club have made it clear their policy since the start of the season.
"We haven't changed in that policy. If we are going to bring in senior players, who I know give us the quality without any trial period, then we still have to look to trade a bit with care."