Newcastle boss Joe Kinnear has been forced to abandon normal training because he does not have enough fit players.
The club's injury list reached double figures in the aftermath of Sunday's 5-1 Barclays Premier League defeat by Liverpool, and the 62-year-old admits he will not know until Friday the men he will have at his disposal for the following day's FA Cup third-round trip to Hull.
French defender Sebastien Bassong will return from a one-match ban, while Jose Enrique, Nicky Butt and Shola Ameobi will have late fitness tests.
However, with Habib Beye, who will be sidelined for up to two months with a knee problem, Mark Viduka, Obafemi Martins and Claudio Cacapa having joined Joey Barton among the long-term absentees, Kinnear has an unwelcome selection headache just a few weeks after briefly finding himself with difficult decisions to make.
He said: "It's been more or less a case of cancelling training and wrapping all of my players up in cotton wool, and then we will see if we can get 11 out for Hull.
"It's tough, but it's my job to keep them all up for it. I have to face it, and it is my job to lift whoever is fit to play."
Newcastle found themselves in the grip of an injury crisis when Kinnear arrived at St James' Park as interim manager in September with Beye, Enrique, Barton, Damien Duff, Viduka and Martins all unavailable.
However, they had returned to action, only for Barton to be struck by a knee injury to lead a new procession to the treatment room.
Kinnear said: "In terms of injuries, we have gone backwards since I arrived here.
"We didn't have any full-backs to begin with and now we are back to that with Habib out for two months and Enrique struggling.
"We have several injuries we are sweating on, and the pain in the neck is that I won't know what my team is likely to be until Friday."
The club's misfortune in that respect has compounded the gamble they took during the summer transfer window which left them with a lop-sided and under-strength squad.
Indeed, such were their problems at the weekend that Kinnear was forced to include youngsters Tamas Kadar, Kazenga LuaLua and Andy Carroll on the bench as well as Spanish flop Xisco, whose arrival on Tyneside during the summer was one of then manager Kevin Keegan's reasons for leaving.
The manager met managing director Derek Llambias earlier this week to discuss their latest recruitment plans with speculation linking them with a series of targets from the Coca-Cola Championship, most notably Wolves winger Michael Kightly, Reading striker Kevin Doyle and Cardiff midfielder Joe Ledley.
However, the Magpies have already been warned off England Under-21 international Kightly, who is also thought to be in the sights of Aston Villa, Everton and Tottenham.
Meanwhile, Kinnear has insisted keeper Shay Given, reportedly an £8million target for North London duo Arsenal and Tottenham, is simply not for sale.
He said: "There is no problem there. He's very happy here, he's very comfortable at Newcastle United.
"He won't be leaving - he has no interest in that whatsoever. He loves the football club - he's part of the city and that suits us because he's a world-class goalkeeper."Reuse content