Sven-Goran Eriksson is bracing himself for the prospect of being without defensive linchpin John Terry for the climax to England's World Cup qualifying campaign in October.
The England coach has already had to rule the Chelsea centre-back out of the double header with Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday and Northern Ireland in Belfast four days later.
But Terry is facing at least a month on the sidelines with the knee ligament damage suffered during the weekend Premiership clash at Tottenham.
And that is giving Eriksson cause for concern regarding the two qualifiers at Old Trafford against Austria and Poland which could decide whether England top group six.
It also puts a massive question mark over whether Terry will be fit for Chelsea's group match in the Champions League with Liverpool at Anfield on September 28.
Eriksson, who has added Fulham's Zat Knight to his squad, said: "John Terry came to see us on Tuesday morning but we sent him home. He will not be ready for the Wales game and he will not be ready for Northern Ireland.
"Then we have to see if he will be ready for the October games because the doctors said he will be out for at least four weeks with a knee injury.
"We knew there was a problem on Monday after talks between our medical staff and those at Chelsea. You had better ask our doctor and the Chelsea doctor but I think it is a ligament problem and four weeks is a long time."
Eriksson would have preferred the presence of Terry to combat the physical threat offered by John Hartson but he has every confidence in Jamie Carragher to fill the breach.
He said: "I should always like to have John Terry with me. John Hartson is very dangerous because he is big, clever, a good header of the ball, but we have good centrebacks.
"Jamie Carragher has improved a lot in the last year. I don't know if it is a Liverpool attitude but he never gives up and the game he played in the Champions League final was incredible.
"I think he had cramp but he didn't leave the pitch. Fantastic. It has been a huge improvement."
The good news for Eriksson is that midfielder Steven Gerrard is expected to be fit after his calf injury and he was put through his paces by England physio Gary Lewin at Arsenal's London Colney training ground.
The Liverpool captain will go through the same routine today with a view to joining in with full training tomorrow.
England skipper David Beckham will also be back with his team-mates today after missing the opening session with a sore foot.