Sheffield United have been dealt another injury blow after John Egan was ruled out for around eight weeks with a dislocated toe.
The 28-year-old defender was carried off on a stretcher late on in the defeat at West Ham on Monday evening, after hurting himself making a block tackle on Jesse Lingard.
Egan requires surgery and will miss much of what remains of the campaign, as injuries continue to mount up for the Blades in a way they did not last season.
United boss Chris Wilder provided an update on the Republic of Ireland international ahead of his side’s Premier League game at Fulham on Saturday.
“John Egan is going to be out for eight weeks. He needs an operation on a dislocated toe,” said Wilder.
“It’s a situation where John has gone to block a shot and when we saw the reaction of a committed, brave player straight away we all knew he was in trouble.
“It’s a big blow to lose him for eight weeks.”
John Fleck missed the trip to West Ham having been hospitalised that weekend with an unspecified illness and the midfielder will also be absent at Fulham.
“After thorough tests on John, we’ve got the results back and he is being monitored. There’s no real news regarding his return. We’re disappointed on that one,” said the Blades boss.
Wilder’s side were extremely settled last season but injuries have not made that possible during the current campaign and a push for European football has been replaced by a relegation battle.
“I do feel we’ve been cursed with injuries. We’ve had big injuries that have hurt us,” said Wilder.
“They have not been soft tissue injuries or self-inflicted, and I feel sorry for the medical team as they have been brilliant the past two or three years.
“We’ve had John Fleck falling and breaking his back, Jack O’Connell colliding with Dean Henderson, Oli McBurnie falling and hurting his shoulder and now John Egan hurting himself making a tackle.
“When people are trying to analyse the difference between this season and last season, that’s the biggest one.
“I think for a promoted team coming into the Premier League the majority of teams, and there are some exceptions, need to be built defensively and be solid and have a structure about them, and we certainly did that with the fourth-best defensive record last year.
“The stats back it up, Aaron Ramsdale has had more saves to make than Dean Henderson did last year. To get to the fourth-best defensive record, there has to be a continuity of selection and every Sheffield United fan can name last season’s back eight in their heads. That eight picked themselves last season.
“The chopping and changing of bringing new players into positions, six players in (the injured) Jack O’Connell’s position, issues with (George) Baldock, (Enda) Stevens, John Fleck, John Lundstram has had situations and the continuity and the flow is affected.
“When people talk about losing one or two established Premier League players I really scratch my head. We’re not an established Premier League team and we’ve lost eight or nine big players for us and it’s going to make it hard for us to have that continuity, experience and momentum.”