Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has received the news he dreaded after discovering that defender Martin Laursen will be out for up to three months following confirmation of medial ligament damage to his knee.
But, on the day he was again snubbed by England, captain Gareth Barry gave O’Neill one piece of encouraging news on the injury front.
Following the painful impact of a knee in the back he received from Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho in Wednesday night's Carling Cup exit at Stamford Bridge, Barry seems sure to miss today's match at Everton.
But, following a scan, no more serious damage than that has been discovered and O'Neill does not expect him to miss more than one game. "He tried to train but he is very uncomfortable," O'Neill said. "It is just severe bruising, though and it might be just the one game he is out for."
He looks likely to be replaced as skipper today by Olof Mellberg, a former Villa captain, who resumed armband duties when Barry limped off just before half-time at Chelsea. Barry is expected to be fit for the match at Wigan tomorrow week.
Barry’s long wait for a first England call since the summer of 2003 must go on even though he has pushed himself to the fore with consistent performances this season and, most crucially, has caught the eye of this country's most noted football scribes.
Having said that, it might not be too much longer before Villa have another player in the England squad for the first time since Darius Vassell left for Manchester City two summers ago.
The inside word following the announcement of Steve McClaren's 28-man squad yesterday is that, despite O'Neill's call for caution in how Gabriel Agbonlahor is treated, the in-form player was quite close to a call-up.
If things are starting to look good again for Villa's England hopefuls, that's decidedly not the case for one of their Danish international contingent, Laursen, who is set to be replaced by Liam Ridgewell today.
Laursen had to go all the way to Colorado for surgery on his left knee last season, for an operation by Dr Richard Steadman that saved his career. The luckless Dane is now experiencing concern over his right knee but may have to go only as far as Worcestershire, to see German specialist Oliver Schindler for a second opinion at his Droitwich Knee Clinic.
O’Neill said: "Laursen has torn his medial ligament so he's going to be out for a long time but we've got a very good surgeon here who has looked after Martin greatly and knows his requirements and medical condition. It might be one of those you don't operate on. It might be torn, or it might just need rest. We are awaiting another surgeon's opinion.
"It is not looking so good for him but the only consolation is it's the other knee and not the one where he has experienced his other problems.
"You have to feel great sympathy for him because he has worked so hard to get back to fitness. The way he's improved from the way he was pre-season has been terrific and, when he came into the team against Blackburn last Sunday, he was excellent. I have got the utmost regard for him.
"Although this has been really sickening for him, he is capable of bouncing back again as he has shown before. Laursen is of such a mentality that he will come back. "He is as brave as a lion and was doing really well against Didier Drogba the other night until he got injured. The fact that he was doing so well against a quality player like Drogba - is anyone playing better in European football? - will give him great heart."