When Marek Hamsik limped off with a toe problem against Parma there were of course faint murmurings that it could have left him out of the tie with Arsenal in the Champions League next week.
Hamsik has not played since the innocuous knock and is now looking unlikely to play against Udinese at the weekend.
The problem it seems is a difficulty in the affected area’s healing process. The Slovakian has a deep contusion on his metatarsal and while pain remains Rafa Benitez does not want to take a risk on the player.
It was doing just that which got them in this situation in the first place. Benitez decided to play Hamsik despite him carrying an injury from international duty - and it seems he exacerbated the problem.
Now Tuttosport claim he is very unlikely to play against Arsenal next week in the crunch Champions League fixture.
The fear is, because his toe is already damaged, it would only take a minor knock for it to break and potentially leave him on the side-lines for approximately three months.
Hamsik is vital to the Neapolitan cause, and without him their play significantly deteriorates.
Arsenal may have 12 points in their Champions’ League group but they are not technically through yet. If the Italian outfit were to give them a good beating at the Stadio San Paulo and Borussia Dortmund win against Marseille they could still slip into European football’s ‘plate’ competition - the Europa League.
But even with Hamsik Napoli would struggle to comfortably beat Arsenal, without him it looks very unlikely.
Arsenal should now hopefully have an even better chance of getting the result they need to take them into the next stage of European football’s premier competition.
image: © vincentteeuwen