David Moyes is anxiously awaiting news on injured star Victor Anichebe.
The Sunderland striker damaged his right knee after coming on as a sub in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at West Brom.
Anichebe played on following treatment and showed no ill-effects.
However, there are fears the injury-plagued 28-year-old will be out until March, with the relegation strugglers remaining tight-lipped until they receive results of a scan.
Moyes will wait on the details of that scan – it is not easy to gauge the length of absence until the injured area settles down.
The manager will have fingers, legs, everything in fact crossed that the team’s talisman is NOT facing another spell on the sidelines. But it is all up in the air until those scan results come through.
One thing is certain, Sunderland desperately need the former Everton and West Brom front man on the field for as many of the remaining 16 matches as possible.
The Black Cats are not the same side without him.
Moyes’s team have won just four times in the top flight, against Bournemouth, Hull, Leicester and Watford, and Anichebe has been instrumental in all of them.
Not only has he scored three times, his link-up play has been exceptional and he provides tremendous support for leading scorer Jermain Defoe.
Sunderland have a week before playing again - a home date with the Premier League’s in-form outfit, Tottenham Hotspur.
Moyes will not write off the match with Spurs but, deep down, he’ll know having the powerful figure fit for the Stadium of Light clash is not paramount.
However, of the six games which follow, four are target games - Crystal Palace (a), Southampton (h), Middlesbrough (a) and Burnley (h).
It would be unthinkable for the Black Cats to be without him for that sequence of fixtures.
Anichebe went down a quarter of an hour from time at the Hawthorns.
The giant Scouser had been on the field barely nine minutes in his comeback game from a hamstring strain.
To his credit, he got up after treatment and bravely soldiered on following taunts from the home fans who chanted “Victor Anichebe, he’s injured again”.
Anichebe put himself about for the remainder of the game, though with no reward.
There was no hint of any problems post-match with Moyes encouraged by the fact the Black Cats had got him “back on the field”.
Until pulling his hamstring at Burnley on New Year’s Eve, Anichebe had enjoyed a good run of fitness and form, becoming a big favourite of the Wearside faithful in the process.
Jason Denayer, who was hurt at the same time against the Baggies, and forced off is expected to be fit to face Spurs.
No club in the top flight has suffered with injuries like the bottom-of-the-table team.
Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchhoff, Paddy McNair, Jordan Pickford and Duncan Watmore are all out with long-term injuries while experienced midfielder, Steven Pienaar, has missed the last five matches, though he is running again after recovering from calf trouble.