Sheffield United fear John Brayford could miss the remainder of the League One season after the right-back suffered a “freak” and “nasty” calf injury in training.
The £1.5m right-back was a notable absentee from the United side which lost 3-1 at Southend on Wednesday evening, a result which all but ended their faint hopes of gatecrashing the top six.
And although Blades boss Nigel Adkins insisted afterwards that the 28-year-old’s injury might not be as bad as first feared, United’s medical staff privately fear Brayford might not play again this season.
“It was a big, big blow,” Adkins, whose side face Walsall this weekend, said.
“Where we are with the players, the last thing we need is injuries. John felt like someone had thrown something at the back of him. It looks like a nasty one, one of those freak ones.
“It’s so, so disappointing. As for the season, we’ll have to wait and see.
“Alex Baptiste has trained well for the last few days and should be in line to train before the weekend. If he comes through that, he’ll be in contention for Saturday. We thought he’d be out for a few weeks.
“We’ll have to wait and see with John. We’ll bring him back properly and as safely as possible.”
“John will go through the right protocols,” Adkins added, “and we’ll take things from there.”