Newcastle United striker Papiss Cisse is set to undergo surgery in a blow to the Magpies’ Premier League survival hopes.
The ex-Freiburg forward has been sidelined since before Christmas with a groin problem. And head coach Steve McClaren was hopeful Cisse would not need an operation which would rule him out for two to three months.
“We’ve had second and third opinions,” said McClaren, who saw Cisse make a tentative return to training last week.
“They have said ‘an operation is that length of time, but you could try it and see how it goes. If it goes, you’ll have the operation’.
“So he has stepped up, stepped up and stepped up.
“The injury is complicated. It has surprised me. It’s a groin strain. How severe we’ll find out probably the middle of next week.”
However, Cisse will now undergo surgery which will rule him out for months.
McClaren has just one fit senior striker – Aleksandar Mitrovic – available for Saturday’s home Premier League clash with West Ham, though Ayoze Perez and Siem de Jong can also play up front.
Meanwhile, Mitrovic feels he is getting to grips with Premier League football in time to save the Magpies from relegation.
The striker won and converted a penalty in Tuesday’s 3-3 draw with Manchester United, ending their run of four successive 1-0 defeats.
“I’m getting better each game,” said Mitrovic, signed last summer from Anderlecht.
“It’s difficult each game. Defenders are getting stronger. Maybe a few games and more time to adapt. Every game is different.
“It’s different football to what I played in Belgium. It’s a difficult time, and maybe that is behind me. Every game I feel better, and I have more confidence.”
Chris Smalling wrestled Mitrovic to the ground in the second half to the concede the penalty, which the Serbian swept the penalty past David de Gea. “I spoke with him (head coach Steve McClaren) before the game,” said Mitrovic. “He said that if a penalty comes, I need to take it.
“It is my responsibility in this team to take the penalty. I take the ball and I score the goal, and I’m very happy.
“I hope I will keep scoring
On the 3-3 draw, Mitrovic added: “I was really happy. It was a really good result after being 2-0 down. We showed we can come back.”