Sunderland skipper Dean Whitehead has been ruled out for six months with a cruciate knee injury.
Whitehead will miss a crucial stage of the season
The 25-year-old midfielder picked up the injury on the eve of the 18 August Premier League game at Wigan.
"It looks as though Deano will need
surgery in a couple of weeks," manager Roy Keane told the club website.
"It looks like it's a cruciate so that would rule him out for six or seven
months. It's a bitter blow. We're missing his leadership qualities."
Whitehead, who suffered the injury in training, filled in at right-back for their win over Tottenham on the opening day of the season before moving back to midfield for the draw with Birmingham.
Keane added that he was looking to bring in a midfielder before the transfer window closes on Friday and had been given permission to talk to Stoke defender Danny Higginbotham and Southampton striker Kenwyne Jones.
The Sunderland boss said: "I've been saying for a while that we need to strengthen and we'll look to speak to them on Wednesday."