Martin Jol, the Fulham manager, says Mahamadou Diarra could be ruled out for the majority of the season with a knee injury, leaving them potentially short of options in central midfield.
Diarra was hurt while on international duty with Mali this month and requires surgery.
"There is a little piece of cartilage floating in his knee," Jol said. "If there is damage to his cruciate ligament then it will take a lot longer – three, four, five months at least."
The west London side sold three central midfielders in the summer – Moussa Dembélé, Danny Murphy and Dickson Etuhu.