Aston Villa manager David O'Leary is increasingly concerned by the continued absence of his most expensive signing Milan Baros.
The Czech international has missed Villa's last three matches with an Achilles tendon injury, and has again been ruled out by O'Leary for tomorrow's game with Wigan Athletic.
But what really irks the Villa boss is that, in the middle of his lay-off from club duty, Baros was patched up to play for the Czech Republic in their World Cup qualifier against Holland.
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And O'Leary's worry is that, even though the injury might not have fully healed by the time the Czechs play their vital World Cup play-off deciders against Norway next month, Baros may do further longterm damage by being patched up again.
"The bottom line is that he was getting better," said O'Leary, "the Czechs took him away and made him play, and he came back to us with the injury worse than before he went. He was given an injection by the Czechs to mask the pain.
"We could have done that and put him in against Middlesbrough two weeks ago. But that's something we'd never do because you know you only end up making the injury worse."
The Baros situation once again highlights the longstanding issue of whether club or country take priority. As Villa invested £6.5 million in Baros, O'Leary regards it as clearly no contest.
And it is not a problem that seems likely to go away until after the Czech Republic's fate is decided in mid-November when they hope to have beaten Norway over two legs and book their place in next summer's World Cup finals.
"He won't be right for Saturday," said O'Leary. "But, even if he gets fit by the playoffs then they'll take him again and the same situation might happen again.
"The clubs might pay the big wages but they've no say when it comes to anything beyond that."
While Baros is again missing on Saturday, O'Leary is at least comforted that Gareth Barry will be fit despite getting a slight knock in Sunday's derby win over Blues. And he will also have Mark Delaney back in contention after the experienced right-back came through Wednesday night's 3- 0 reserves win at Leeds.
"It was just illness that kept him out last week," said O'Leary. "He's fit enough to go on the bench."
Midfielder Gavin McCann made his comeback in that same reserves game at the South Leeds Stadium, following his latest lay-off following knee surgery in early September, but O'Leary reckons that tomorrow is too soon for him.
"I'll be guided by Gav," said O'Leary. "When he says he's still off the pace, you tend to listen as this is a fellow who will tell you he can play on one leg. With him, we're looking more at the Manchester City game on Monday week."
O'Leary is still without Jlloyd Samuel, who has had an injection in a bid to finally cure the shoulder problem which has dogged him for the past 12 months.
And the Villa boss has been hit by one more piece of ill luck with injuries following the revelation that young centre-half Gary Cahill has had to undergo ankle surgery.
"He's damaged ankle ligaments and there were a few other things that the surgeon did not like," said O'Leary. "He'll be out for four months."
In the short term, it denies Cahill, whose only first team start came last month at Wycombe in the Carling Cup, the chance to play in the next round on Tuesday night against Burnley.
Cahill spent the second half of last season at the Turf Moor club on loan.
But it also leaves O'Leary hanging on with even more desperation to the New Year transfer window.
He can then concentrate on bringing in his No 1 target, Chelsea's Robert Huth.
"We've now only two fit centre-halves left at the club in Ridgewell and Mellberg," said O'Leary.
"And it leaves us very brittle. We certainly can't afford any more injuries in that position."