Everton have been dealt yet another injury hammer blow with the news that John Stones will be out for up to 14 weeks with an ankle injury.
Stones sustained the injury in the closing stages of Sunday's defeat at Manchester United and was stretchered from the field in obvious pain.
INJURY UPDATE: Martinez reveals John Stones' injury requires surgery and expects the defender to be out for 10-14 weeks. More to follow.— Everton (@Everton) October 9, 2014
Initial scans proved inconclusive so Everton sent the 20-year-old to see an ankle specialist on Wednesday.
He has delivered bad news.
Stones requires surgery on his ankle injury with the initial timescale put on his recovery around 10-14 weeks, at best mid-December, at worst mid-January.
It is a blow both for Everton and Stones, who has been the club's best player in a difficult season so far. A key reason for those difficulties has been an lengthy injury list that seems to grow longer with each passing week.
Ross Barkley hasn't played all season due to a knee injury, Kevin Mirallas has torn his hamstring, Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy haven't played yet this month, Bryan Oviedo requires another operation while we are still not sure whether Arouna Kone actually exists.
With doubts also surrounding the status of Sylvain Distin, who, if Twitter rumours are to be believed, has been asked to stay away from training, Everton are now desperately short at the back.
The injury-prone Antolin Alcaraz is one rather uninspiring option, while young summer signing Brendan Galloway may also be promoted from the club's youth team.
Tony Hibbert, believe it or not, has played centre back before and could step in with young Tyias Browning starting on the right.
Whatever option Roberto Martinez chooses it will be a gamble, with the Spaniard surely cursing his luck and fearful that this injury crisis could have a long-lasting impact on the club's fortunes this season.