Birmingham City could be dealt a bitter blow to their hopes of survival in the Premier League if a scan on the left knee of Sebastian Larsson reveals medial knee ligament damage.
The Sweden international midfielder sustained the injury in the closing minutes of the first half against Newcastle on Monday night following a bad challenge from former Blues loan signing Nicky Butt.
The irony will not be lost on Birmingham as Butt's challenge displayed more intent than the devastating but clumsy tackle from Martin Taylor that broke Arsenal striker Eduardo's leg just over three weeks ago.
Larsson's absence, which could be several weeks, will be a big loss for Birmingham manager Alex McLeish. The 22-year-old has scored five goals for Blues this season, including two stunning free kicks against Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth in recent weeks.
"We did lose a bit of influence with Larsson going off, no doubt about it," said McLeish.
"Stuart Parnaby came on and did a good job for us but he is not a forward player and we lost that impetus that Larsson can give you because he's been in exceptional form recently.
"We can't really afford to lose the players that are starting in the team every week because we don't have the strength in depth."
Larsson's injury could open the door for Dutch international midfielder Daniel de Ridder, who has hardly featured under McLeish after rejecting Ajax to sign for Steve Bruce in the summer.
The 23-year-old has made only six starts but despite the lack of opportunities, he has said he does not regret his decision to come to Birmingham from Spanish side Celta Vigo.
"Steve Bruce was much more convincing than Henk ten Cate and Martin van Geel [at Ajax]," he said. "According to the manager, I looked like Ryan Giggs and I could be just as big. He was great.
"The new manager has said that I'd be better in a team that plays football with better players around me. You could almost believe that I would be better at Manchester United."
One player that Blues are rapidly finding they can't do without is £5 million January signing James McFadden. The 24-year-old Scotland international striker scored his fourth goal for Blues against the Geordies and was a constant menace to Kevin Keegan's side.
"James looked the likely candidate to get us something," his delighted manager said. "We never quite got the service to Mikael Forssell but McFadden was a handful.
"He has certainly taken on the mantle of the price tag, of being a Premiership player and of being a Scotland international. He knows that comes with the territory, that people will look up to him and will be expecting him to do something for the team. He is certainly fulfilling that."