Newcastle manager Alan Pardew fears he could be without Shola Ameobi for up to six weeks after the striker suffered a suspected broken cheekbone during the 1-0 Premier League loss away to Fulham.
Wednesday's match at Craven Cottage was barely 13 minutes old when Ameobi was forced off following an accidental collision with Fulham's Steve Sidwell. The forward's exit came just days after Newcastle sold striker Andy Carroll to Liverpool for £35 million. Even if he'd still been on the staff at Newcastle, the England international would have missed the match against Fulham as he's currently injured.
Pardew, reflecting on Ameobi's injury, said: "The diagnosis isn't good. He's got a dent in his cheekbone, which suggests that he may have fractured it," said Pardew, who admitted that would mean a four-to-six-week absence. "It was a big blow to us during the game actually. It affected our game plan a little bit," said Pardew, whose side lost to a goal from former Newcastle winger Damien Duff.
As for suggestions that Ameobi's injury was made all the worse by Carroll's exit, Pardew added: "He's irrelevant to what happened tonight. Shola's been very important to us, though. His performances have been very good. It was just disappointing tonight to lose him in such a manner."
Confronting the issue of Carroll's departure, Pardew said: "I really want to talk about the game, but it is a factor on the game, so I'm not going to shy away from it. I thought the response from our fans was terrific tonight. They could've been super-negative about it and given us a hard time, or given me a hard time."
Fulham's win took them up into 12th place in the table and Mark Hughes said he was as happy with this result as he'd been with the 4-0 FA Cup victory over Tottenham Hotspur last weekend. "We scored one, could've had a number of others, had good clear chances and could've won more comprehensively."
The Cottagers are now five points clear of the relegation zone but Hughes said: "We haven't thought that for a number of weeks now. We are playing well and I don't think there are many teams who have won as many as us of late."