Newcastle United face being without half their first-choice back four for most of January.
Right-back Mathieu Debuchy will miss the games against Cardiff City, Manchester City and – unless the Cardiff FA Cup tie goes to a replay – West Ham United after picking up the third red card of his Newcastle career in yesterday’s 1-0 defeat at West Brom.
His suspension is compounded by a medial knee ligament injury which sees centre-back Fabricio Coloccini out for six weeks.
The Magpies suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time this season – courtesy of Saido Berahino’s 87th-minute penalty – and although it did not see them fall from eighth in the Premier League table, it was a costly start to 2014.
“It was a bad afternoon,” United boss Alan Pardew conceded. “Not only do we lose Debuchy but Colo also looks to have done something to his knee. It is early days but we could be looking at four to six weeks out.”
Coloccini was off receiving treatment when Debuchy lunged two-footed into Claudio Yacob, and was soon substituted.
A four-week injury would rule him out of a potential FA Cup fourth-round tie and the trip to Norwich City, but two more weeks would threaten his involvement against Sunderland and Chelsea.
Although Debuchy appeared to win the ball with his 63rd-minute tackle, neither manager disagreed with the referee’s decision.
“I don’t think we can have too many complaints really,” Pardew reflected. “I think Mathieu has been our best player over the last period and he’s an honest player. He genuinely went for the ball, there was no malicious intent. But you can’t take off with two feet and he knows that.
“So we’re going to suffer and so will he. He is going to be a big miss and it altered things.
“I thought it was a game we had good control over, West Bromwich more or less let us have the initiative. Unfortunately we couldn’t find the breakthrough before the sending off because obviously, that changed the game.”
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Massadio Haidara were substitutes at the Hawthorns, and both can expect to feature at home to Cardiff on Saturday. With Pardew complaining about fatigue from his players, Steven Taylor could also make his first appearance since the season’s opening game.
A period of real stability for Newcastle has come to an end.
“We changed the back four three or four times,” said Pardew, who tried to use Moussa Sissoko at right-back. “I can’t remember ever doing that at this level but we’re having bodies falling around due to the (Festive) programme.”
Pardew had no complaints about West Brom’s penalty – when Tim Krul tripped a goalbound Matej Vydra – and admitted the Dutchman was lucky to stay on.
“Fortunately the forward (Vydra) had a big touch, I thought that was the deciding factor (in Krul not receiving a card),” Pardew (below) said. “I thought the players were terrific with their attitude and their application.
“At the end we had two or three great opportunities, even with ten men. With this programme we’re on you’re always struggling. (It was) a heavy pitch, heavy legs, both teams looked heavy-legged.”
Meanwhile, PSG coach Laurent Blanc has played down talk of a January move for Yohan Cabaye.
“We will not change much. If there is movement, it will not be much,” Blanc said the man who gave Cabaye his first cap.
“I am very happy with the strength of my squad, but there may be movement based on departures.
“I have always thought Cabaye is a very good player. But I have nothing more to say.”