Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is facing mounting injury problems after revealing Alan Smith could be out for the season while Andy Carroll's thigh strain means he is likely to miss at least the next two weeks.
Midfielder Smith limped out of last weekend's 1-1 draw with Sunderland after hurting his ankle, and complications from a previous injury mean his absence is likely to be far longer than first thought.
Pardew told Press Association Sport: "It's sad news for Alan because it's an ankle he's had problems with and we think he'll probably be out for the rest of the season.
"Because he's had a dislocation and a break on that ankle before, when you get a heavy blow like he did it's a very low recovery rate. That's why we think it will take so long.
"He's such a great lad, so popular in the dressing room, he's going to be a big miss for us just as a person so it's a double blow really. But knowing Smudger, he'll recover as quickly as he can and be back playing."
The continuing absence of leading scorer Carroll, meanwhile, is a major headache for Pardew, who revealed today that, as well as missing Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash with Tottenham, the striker is also unlikely to be available for the trip to Fulham on February 2.
"It's an injury that unfortunately is not healing particularly well," said the Magpies boss. "It's nothing new but it's a kicking muscle so you can't take a chance with that. We think it's going to be around two or three weeks from where he is now."
Tottenham have been one of the clubs linked with a January move for Carroll but Pardew, who again reiterated that the England player is not for sale, insists there is no problem between the two clubs.
He continued: "Every top club would be interested in Andy Carroll. He's a great player, he's a young striker, he's not even playing and we're talking about him so he's obviously shown his qualities in the first half of the season, but that's all he's done.
"It's important that when he comes back he goes straight to the same level, but there's no problem with that. He's not going to Spurs, he's not going anywhere, so I don't see that as a factor."
As well as Carroll and Smith, Pardew is likely to be without defender Steven Taylor for six weeks with a hamstring problem while Dan Gosling has suffered a setback in his recovery from a serious knee injury.
The young midfielder made his Toon debut as a late substitute against Sunderland after eight months out with cruciate ligament damage and appeared to be on track but the knee has now swelled up and Pardew expects Gosling to miss at least the next three weeks.
The former West Ham manager said: "We don't want to take a chance with him. It's such a delicate injury that we've had to withdraw him and maybe give him some total rest.
"He looked fine and it was all going well but this is what happens when you have that type of injury. His body's telling him it's not right and we have to accept that."
Pardew is hoping to strengthen his depleted squad before the end of the transfer window but admitted it is proving a frustrating process.
The 49-year-old, who refused to comment on specific targets, said: "It is important we try to bring somebody in and we're really trying, but it's got to be right.
"This window is notoriously difficult for making bad deals, and I think there's been a couple gone through already, which I won't mention, that don't look good value to me."
One player who looks to be on his way out of St James' Park is Wayne Routledge, with Pardew confirming they have accepted a bid from QPR to take the winger on loan.
"They're still talking, the clubs and the player," he added. "He didn't train today so we'll have to wait and see on that one. It's an offer we've accepted."Reuse content