Sunderland defender John Mensah will be sidelined for at least three weeks after it was confirmed he has torn a groin muscle.
The 28-year-old Ghana international, whose time on Wearside has been plagued by injuries, suffered a Grade Two adductor tear just 11 minutes into Saturday's 3-2 home defeat by West Brom and will sit out the rest of the month.
Mensah had managed to put together a run of seven successive starts, but his fitness problems have returned to haunt him once again.
The defender, who is currently on a second season-long loan deal from French club Lyon, has proved a key man when he has been fit.
However, that has become increasingly rare and manager Steve Bruce's decision on whether or not to make his move permanent during the summer is becoming more straightforward by the week.