Stoke City defender Ryan Shawcross has been ruled out of action for up to three weeks by a back injury.
The Potters’ captain was substituted in the first half of last Saturday’s 3-1 win over Queens Park Rangers (QPR) because of the problem.
“Ryan (Shawcross) has a disc in his back which is inflamed. He looks likely to be out for two to three weeks, al being well,” manager Mark Hughes said in his pre-game press briefing ahead of Sunday’s trip to Newcastle.
He added: “That is a big disappointment for us because he is obviously an important player for us and the captain, so he will be a miss.
“We do have other players who are capable of filling in though so it is a chance for them to come in and make a mark, just as they have done in the past.”
As well the game at St. James’ Park, the centre back will miss forthcoming encounters with Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup.
The Welsh boss lamented the club’s inability to see through a deal for several of their targets on January transfer deadline day, most significantly for Spurs’ Aaron Lennon, who eventually ended up at Everton.
“Unfortunately the deal for Robert Huth to depart was agreed on Friday, before Ryan got injured. It was too far down the line,” Hughes reflected.
“We had a couple of targets on deadline day, Aaron Lennon was one of those. They didn’t fall for us and we move on from it.
“I wasn’t privy to everything but what we were hearing was that he felt he would have more opportunities to play at Everton. We don’t guarantee game time to anybody. Players have to earn a spot in my team and they all know that.”
The club are also sweating on the fitness of Jonathan Walters, who bagged a hat-trick against QPR last week.
The Republic of Ireland international has been nursing a knee injury for the past couple of weeks, and hasn’t trained since hitting treble at Loftus Road. Netherlands international Erik Pieters is not “too far away” from regaining full fitness, according to the manager.
“Jon hasn’t trained since the game because of a little problem with his knee, which we are trying to manage at the moment,” the Welshman added.
“Hopefully that will have settled in time for the game on Sunday – we are hopeful of having him available to us.”