Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has been handed a major blow ahead of his side's Premier League clash with Watford on Tuesday evening, with Mamadou Sakho to miss the tie, as well as potentially the entire festive period, through injury.
The 27-year-old captain was replaced by Scott Dann midway through the first half of the Eagles' 2-2 draw with Bournemouth on Saturday.
The 30-year-old came on from the bench to put his side ahead 20 minutes after being introduced following teammate Luka Milivojevic levelling things up from the spot after Jermain Defoe had put the Cherries ahead.
However, the visiting talisman, who had scored four in his previous two meetings with Palace ahead of the weekend, put his side back on level terms just before the break with an astonishing half-volley.
That is the way things stayed, and following the 90 minutes the disappointment kept on coming for Hodgson.
Not only were his side back at the foot of the Premier League after Christian Benteke's woeful last-minute penalty miss, but Sakho's injury news was worse than initially feared, with the Frenchman now facing weeks, maybe even months on the sidelines.
"He’ll be out a long time, how long a time, I don’t know, they won’t put a time on it, but it’s a serious muscle tear in his calf so I don’t know, but it’s weeks not days, I couldn’t say if it was months", the former England manager told the Watford pre-match press conference when asked about his defender's situation, as quoted by the Croydon Advertiser.
"We’ll miss him, in this period he’s played a decisive role, been captain, shown his qualities and when you lose a player like that you can’t be anything other than disappointed and sad."
If Sakho was to be ruled out for the remainder of December, which looks likely, he would be absent during his side's tough festive tests, including the visits of both Arsenal and Manchester City, as well as the crucial basement battle with Swansea City two days before Christmas.