Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill expects skipper Lee Cattermole to be sidelined for the next two months with a knee injury.
The 24-year-old was substituted after injuring his knee seven minutes into the goalless draw at QPR on 27 November.
O'Neill is now considering whether to recall midfielder David Meyler, who is on loan at Hull until the start of next month.
The Black Cats boss said of Cattermole: "He'll probably be about another two months. I knew the news wouldn't be too good. It could have been worse but obviously it could have been better."