Chris Coleman faces an anxious wait over the severity of Darron Gibson’s groin problem as Sunderland suffered another injury blow.
The influential midfielder, who had been nursing a groin problem over the festive fixtures, was withdrawn after just 33 minutes of the 1-0 defeat to Barnsley.
With Lee Cattermole, Didier Ndong and Jonny Williams injured and sub Paddy McNair only just back from injury, Coleman said he had no choice but to play Gibson.
And the Black Cats boss is fearing the worst.
"Darron thinks he has popped his groin, which doesn’t sound good," said Coleman. "We will have to wait and see. He will get scanned.
"But if it is what is suspected then it is a big blow. Lee Cattermole won’t be back for another couple of weeks, we are going to have to get Paddy McNair ready for Boro.
"We have the transfer window and could, possibly, bring someone in that position. Where else do we go? That’s all we have at the moment.
"Gibbo has been pulling the strings for us, he was just settling into the game and that happened. I am bitterly disappointed. We had no choice but to play him because Paddy was not fit to start.
"We lose Darron now but we had nowhere else to turn apart form a few young ones. That’s the worrying thing."
Marc Wilson was missing with a tight calf suffered at Nottingham Forest, the game against Barnsley coming too soon.
He will be assessed ahead of the FA Cup tie with Middlesbrough at the Riverside on Saturday.
Coleman said: "His calf had tightened up, he couldn't play. We can't start him and then lose him for six weeks. He is too important.
"With a bit of luck Marc will be okay but this game came round too quickly for him. Do we risk him against Boro? Maybe not."
Bryan Oviedo was subbed at half-time against Barnsley but Coleman confirmed it was for tactical reasons, the Black Cats boss describing the left-back as "rusty" and lacking fitness after his recent injury.
Coleman added: "Bryan wasn't injured, I just felt he looked rusty and lacked a bit of fitness. We changed it around.
"Tactically we had to do it differently because we had different players on the pitch.
"Bryan had been out for a while, he played at Sheffield United and maybe that was a bit much for him where he is fitness wise."