The Everton manager, David Moyes, admits his long injury list has started to get him down after the latest setback to captain Phil Neville.
The 32-year-old has had to undergo an operation to repair a tear in the cartilage of the knee he injured at Fulham in September. Neville appeared to be on the verge of making a first-team comeback but now faces possibly another three weeks on the sidelines.
With Phil Jagielka, Mikel Arteta, Victor Anichebe, James Vaughan and Leon Osman all currently injured and Steven Pienaar only just returning to fitness after two months out, Moyes has had a tough time.
"It started to wear me down on Friday when I heard Phil was going to need an operation," Moyes said. "He has a bit of a cartilage tear, which we knew about, but the surgeon didn't want to operate [at the time of the injury] as he didn't think it was needed.
"It looks as if the tear has got slightly bigger so we feel now we have to go in and do something about it. The surgeon thought it would heal by itself, which was the correct decision, but now it has got bigger it is starting to cause him a few problems. We were probably expecting Phil to have maybe started against Manchester United [last Saturday], Hull tomorrow or maybe Liverpool [this Sunday].
"There was an outside chance because he had been training with us for five or six days but in the end I wouldn't have picked him against United because he wasn't physically fit enough. It now looks like he is going to be out for another two or three weeks."
The loss of Neville may be a concern but Moyes has other more important issues to address ahead of tonight's trip to Hull. Everton have won just once in six league matches, a run which has left them 14th in the table, and a positive result at the KC Stadium is imperative. However, Moyes' options are limited further as midfielders Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Marouane Fellaini are suspended.
"I'm sure everyone has opinions about what we can do but take it from me I'm trying everything I can to find something which might work better," Moyes said. "We have no wide players right now and we have players who have to come out as we feel we have overplayed them. We are trying to introduce new players to the team as well but we have also got suspensions, which you get.
"When you get a job in the Premier League it is all about trying to get sides who can win games. At the moment it is a struggle but in the past we have done it and I'm sure we will do it again. It is by far the worst injury list I have had as a manager but what's the point in me coming out and saying that?
"I'm sure there are managers who have had far more than me. You just have to get on with it and we will do it. I think Baz [head physio Mick Rathbone] is in a clinic for depression at the moment. It has been a tough time for the medical team."
The major problem for Moyes is that there is no sign of any of his long-term walking wounded returning to action before Christmas. "The disappointing thing is there isn't anyone really on the horizon," Moyes added. "It is not as if there are all these injured players ready to ride over the hill and bail us out.
"That is why it is far better concentrating on the fit ones and demanding of them to play better than they are at the moment."Reuse content