The bones of David O'Leary's Aston Villa squad aren't just bare, after two of his players missed Saturday's wretched 4-1 defeat at Everton and a third survived less than half an hour, they appear to be weak too.
Defender Aaron Hughes lasted a mere 29 minutes at Goodison Park before he was replaced by Jlloyd Samuel, while James Milner and Kevin Phillips didn't even get on to the pitch, with all three suffering from a debilitating virus.
And with Fulham, buoyed by a victory over champions Chelsea, next up on Saturday and rumblings of discontent among the Villa fans, manager O'Leary faces an anxious week to discover if any of his ailing trio will be available at the weekend.
The prognosis on Hughes is the most positive.
Villa expect the Northern Ireland international to be fit to face Fulham, despite the fact he claimed he felt as though he was going to faint at Everton.
"Aaron thought he could get through the game but he didn't feel great in the warm-up," said O'Leary.
"He gave it a go but he felt as if he was going to pass out - he was totally washed out and he had lost his colour."
Milner is the biggest concern. The midfielder's illness emerged last week and led to suggestions the on-loan Newcastle United player would miss the rest of the campaign but O'Leary said he doubted the situation was that serious. "I really don't know where the reports of him being out for the season have come from, because I can only go by what I'm told by the medical people," he said.
"He's not having any medication or treatment. We just want to keep him away from the club because the virus knocked him sideways.
"With the squad we've got, he's had to play week in, week out and it's really cleaned him out. He's the worst affected and he was sent home for nine days.
"He'll come back in on Thursday and we'll see if the virus is out of his body. Then we'll have an idea of whether he can play on Saturday.
"No one knows how he will be - he's just got to rest at home until Thursday."
Milner's absence will be most keenly felt of all.
"James has been excellent for us this season and he is the reason why Lee Hendrie has not had many opportunities," said O'Leary.
"He has been one of our most consistent players and is a boy who is willing to learn and who is getting better and better as a player. Missing him is a blow."
The outlook on Phillips is somewhat brighter. "Kevin trained for about half an hour on Friday but he was just washed out so we had to send
him home," O'Leary said. The former Southampton man should recover this week.
Meanwhile, one man who did make it through the Goodison ordeal with some credit was teenage striker Gabriel Agbonlahor, who scored on his debut.
Although the hosts led 3-0 when the 19-year-old turned in Lee Hendrie's pass, the manner of the finish and a lively all-round display pointed to a bright future.
"It was nice to score, but it's the result that makes the headlines - not me scoring," he said Agbonlahor.
"When the gaffer told me I was playing, I thought: 'This is the chance I've been waiting for - grab it'."