Wolverhampton Wanderers are hoping that Paul Ince's current injury lay-off will not to turn into a repeat of last season's unexpectedly long absence.
The Wolves skipper has now been out for four games with a thigh problem, which manager Glenn Hoddle has admitted may be "more serious" than the club first thought.
But the Wolves boss can only speculate that Ince is "a few weeks" away from a first team return. And, following the way Wolves suffered during Ince's three-month break between first team starts last Autumn, Hoddle is conscious of the need to more adequately fill the void this time round.
The Wolves boss points to the three wins Wolves managed at the end of last season without Ince. And Wolves have also now had to do without their skipper for five of this season's first seven games - in which they have collected three more wins without him.
Hoddle has plenty of midfield options, notably the inform Mark Kennedy, as well as Seyi Olofinjana, Colin Cameron, Darren Anderton and young Mark Davies. Ince will be 38 next month and has already stated his intention of retiring at the end of the season but Hoddle insists that he remains a firm part of his plans. And the Wolves boss is confident that Ince will be back in the first team fold before too long.
"Unfortunately the injury he suffered is a bit more serious than we first thought," said Hoddle. "But at least he's running.
"He's on his way back, but he hasn't kicked any balls yet. And he won't be ready for the weekend.
"He's a few weeks off yet and has still got a bit of work to do, but hopefully he might join in a session towards the back end of next week."
Hoddle also has worries over two more midfield men, Kennedy and Anderton, but both are expected to be fit in time for Saturday's trip to surprise high fliers Luton Town, as is Seyi Olofinjana after playing the second half of Nigeria's 5-2 World Cup qualifier win over Algeria on Sunday.
"Mark's had a few days rest with an Achilles problem that we're trying to clear up and Darren has a slightly tight thigh," said Hoddle, " although I don't see that being a problem for the weekend. And Seyi has come back okay from his international game."
With Mark Clyde "still a fair way off", that leaves Hoddle sweating only on fitness reports on last night's four other players on international duty.
Jackie McNamara and man of the moment Kenny Miller were on duty for Scotland against Norway in Oslo, Rob Edwards was out in Warsaw with Wales, and Gabor Gyepes was part of the Hungarian squad facing Sweden in Budapest.