BARNSLEY could be without midfield maestro Stephen Dawson for as long as six weeks.
Dawson limped off with ankle ligament damage after just 12 minutes of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town at Portman Road.
And The Star has learnt that Dawson, who has started in 26 of his 29 appearances this season, has a grade two tear to his ankle.
Reds boss David Flitcroft feared the player might have broken his ankle, but thankfully an X-ray confirmed there was no break.
“There’s still a lot of swelling around the ankle, so it will probably take us the next 48 hours to assess it properly,” Flitcroft told The Star.
“But there is ligament damage so he could be out for four weeks, or even six depending on how long he takes to recover.
“It’s a blow because Daws and Perks [David Perkins] are the heartbeat of our team. Daws and Perks’ energy this season has been incredible. There’s only Jason Lowe at Blackburn Rovers whose outmatched them for energy this season.
“It’s a big miss not having Daws because he’s been inspirational for us.
“But it’s an opportunity for someone else to come in and to try and tie down a position in the midfield.”
To make matters worse for the Reds defender Jimmy McNulty is expected to be sidelined for the next fortnight with a knee injury.
Centre-back McNulty has already missed a large chunk of this season with a hamstring injury and only returned to competitive action in November.
Since then the former Brighton and Stockport man has started in every one of the 10 games he’s played in, although injury forced him to miss the clash with the Tractor Boys.
“It’s is a concern,” admitted Flitcroft. “It’s slow progress at the moment.”
Winger Jim O’Brien was training today having recovered from the dead leg that also forced him to miss the club’s last match.