Everton's hopes of winning some silverware this season suffered a severe blow on Monday when their Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta was ruled out for the rest of the campaign.
Arteta, the creative heartbeat of David Moyes's side, suffered the injury in the opening minutes of Sunday's goalless draw at Newcastle. The club revealed on Monday that their worst fears had been confirmed by a scan which showed that the 26-year-old had ruptured a cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Everton are currently sixth in the English Premier League and the Merseyside club have also advanced to the last eight of the FA Cup, in which they will face either West Ham or Middlesbrough for a place in the semi-finals.
Already facing an uphill battle with the most meagre playing and financial resources of the top six, Everton have been desperately unlucky this season with injuries.
Nigerian striker Aiyegbeni Yakubu is also out for the rest of the season after rupturing an Achilles tendon at the end of November while knee problems have sidelined forward James Vaughan and Portuguese left-back Nuno Valente.
Hamstring issues have restricted Louis Saha to 14 matches this season and midfielder Marouane Fellaini is currently playing with a cracked bone in his back.
South Africa midfielder Steven Pienaar (hamstring) and Leon Osman (stomach strain) have both missed recent games and Moyes is awaiting an update on the severity of the injury suffered by young forward Victor Anichebe in Sunday's match.
Anichebe was stretchered off following a two-footed, red-card lunge by Newcastle's Kevin Nolan and has revealed that he feared a career-threatening injury. "I've never felt as much pain in my life," said Anichebe. "I thought I'd broken my leg. I couldn't even look down."
Anichebe was optimistic that the injury would prove to be not too serious and said he had already forgiven Nolan. "It was a terrible tackle but I don't think he really meant it, he came and said sorry."