Everton manager David Moyes' bid to close in on the top five in the Barclays Premier League suffered another blow when midfielder Mikel Arteta was ruled out for the rest of the season.
The Spaniard ruptured the cruciate ligament in his right knee in the goalless draw at Newcastle on Sunday and will be out for several months.
Arteta is Everton's main creative outlet and his absence, the latest in a string of injuries to befall the squad, puts more strain on a squad already struggling to cope.
Moyes harbours hopes of catching Arsenal, currently one place above Everton in fifth - four points above the Toffees - but with Arteta out and striker Louis Saha and midfielder Marouane Fellaini not fully fit the manager has some patching up to do if he is to achieve that.
He will be hoping Victor Anichebe will not be sidelined for long, if at all, after he was on the receiving end of a horror tackle from Kevin Nolan on Sunday.
The Newcastle midfielder was sent off for the challenge, which the 20-year-old thought had broken his leg.
"I've never felt as much pain in my life. I thought I'd broken my leg," he told evertonTV. "I couldn't even look down, to be fair. It was a terrible tackle but I don't think he really meant it, he came and said sorry. But what can you do?
"I felt so much pain. Now it's not too bad. It's not as bad as I first thought any way, but I'm feeling a bit of pain in my knee and the back of my calf and down my shin so we'll see how it is."
The Nigeria striker added: "I've always thought to myself I'll never get injured for a long period of time.
"When it happened I thought, that's me, that's my time, but luckily I've got strong legs - if that was anyone else, their leg would have snapped in two. I suppose I'm lucky to come out not as bad. Hopefully everything is all right."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.