Aston Villa midfielder Ashley Westwood is expected to be out until the New Year after suffering a twisted knee in Sunday’s 2-1 home win over Leicester City.
The 24-year-old had to be stretched off just before half-time after a strong challenge from Leicester striker Jamie Vardy, and there were initial fears that he could be sidelined for months.
Scans at the training have since revealed that he should just miss around three weeks, but his absence for scheduled games against West Bromwich Albion, Manchester United, Swansea and Sunderland will nevertheless come as a big blow.
Villa already have Fabian Delph, Ron Vlaar, Philippe Senderos, Nathan Baker and Libor Kozak on the injury list, while fellow midfielder Tom Cleverley is also struggling with a foot problem picked up in the same game.
It leaves manager Paul Lambert decidedly short in the middle ahead of Saturday’s trip to the Hawthorns, just when spirits at Villa Park were picking up following a positive run of results.
Back-to-back victories during a five-match unbeaten run have lifted the Claret and Blues to 11th in the Premier League table, and Lambert is remaining upbeat despite the injuries piling up.
“Everybody thinks Villa are struggling, but we are doing our best to get up there,” he told the Telegraph.
"The team are worthy of competing and if we can keep adding players to it let’s see where we go. There is a big expectancy level at the club, you have to rise to that, but the crowd have been great.
"We have got to try and get this massive football club up the table.
"Have we turned the corner? You're never quite sure but we're on a little bit of a run. We’re only two points behind two massive football clubs in Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.”