Newcastle United have been dealt another injury blow with fears captain Fabricio Coloccini could be out for up to a month.
The 34-year-old Argentinian is understood to have picked up his calf problem during a warm-down after the 2-1 friendly victory over Norwegian side Lillestrom in La Manga at the weekend.
Chancel Mbemba is currently battling an ankle problem.
Coloccini did not play in the game but it leaves under-pressure head coach Steve McClaren facing another setback, with his central defensive options limited.
Chancel Mbemba is currently battling an ankle problem while Steven Taylor is just two games into his comeback after a five-and-a-half-month lay-off.
With Coloccini not involved against Lillestrom, McClaren handed the captain’s armband to January signing Jonjo Shelvey.
And the former Swansea City midfielder could be set for an extended run as Newcastle captain should Coloccini be ruled out for a long spell.
McClaren’s side resume their battle for Premier League survival away at Stoke City a week on Wednesday.
The club was not commenting on Coloccini’s injury, with Newcastle’s medical staff due to assess the player in the run-up to the Stoke clash.
By then, McClaren will hope to have a host of injured players back at his disposal with Paul Dummett, Jack Colback, Vurnon Anita and Siem de Jong - back training after a horror eye injury - all bidding to be available for selection once again.
However, left-back Dummett has also played in central defence, so could be an option.
Former Sunderland midfielder Colback has operated as an emergency full-back in the past if McClaren decides to go with Dummett in a central position.
Newcastle came under heavy criticism for failing to strengthen their central defensive options during the January transfer window.
And should Coloccini miss key fixtures through injury, then it could make it a costly decision.
Newcastle are in the thick of a relegation fight following the pitiful 5-1 defeat at Chelsea in their last game.
The Magpies, third bottom in the Premier League, did however receive a confidence boost with victory over Lillestrom at La Manga Club. It was the culmination of a week’s training in the Spanish heat after the club jetted away for a few days after they were left without a fixture for 18 days.