Newcastle manager Alan Pardew fears midfielder Yohan Cabaye could be sidelined until the new year.
The Frenchman sustained a groin injury on international duty and it appears the player may be out for longer than expected.
"Cabaye looks like he could be out four to six weeks," the Magpies boss told the Evening Chronicle.
"Cabaye might possibly have to have a little surgery on that groin.
"It could be we run all the way to the end of January before I have my first team to pick from."
Pardew is already missing Ryan Taylor, Dan Gosling and Haris Vuckic to longer-term injuries.
The concern for him is even when Cabaye gets fully fit he will still not be able to select a first-choice midfield as Cheick Tiote is likely to be involved in African Nations Cup duty with Ivory Coast.
"When Cabaye comes back, Cheick will be gone. It is tough for us at the minute," Pardew added.
"You have seasons when you lose players and you have to be able to cope with it.
"If I had everybody available then losing Cabaye would not be such a blow.
"At the minute we cannot afford to lose anybody."