Jonathan Hogg’s injury setback could hardly have come at a worse time for Huddersfield Town and their head coach David Wagner.
The 27-year-old is facing two months out with a knee problem picked up during Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat by Ipswich Town.
And Wagner is already without two other defensive midfielders in Emyr Huws and Philip Billing.
On-loan Wigan Athletic man Huws hasn’t yet returned to training after damaging an ankle during the 3-2 home defeat by Cardiff City in January.
And teenager Billing is ruled out of the next two games, at Derby County on Saturday and at home to Reading the Tuesday after.
Doug Thomson's reaction to Saturday's defeat
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That’s as he completes a three-match ban for his straight red card in the 1-1 draw at MK Dons against which Town unsuccessfully appealed.
The defensive midfield role is key to Wagner’s favoured full-throttle system - and he needs two of them.
Dean Whitehead had his first 90-minute run-out against Ipswich since suffering a knee injury in December.
And the experienced former Middlesbrough man’s availability is a boost.
In many ways, Hogg seems the perfect player for Wagner.
Town's season in pictures so far below
He has naturally high fitness level and is a renowned hard worker on the training pitch.
While troubled by a hip injury earlier this season, the former Watford player had made 22 league appearances, 19 of them starts.
He has averaged 58.7 passes per game and has a success rate of 86.2%.
And Hogg has enjoyed a tweaked role under his current boss, who could play Jamie Paterson or Kyle Dempsey alongside Whitehead or could even dip into the Under 21s, where Regan Booty has been catching the eye.
“I used to be box to box but now I have more of a sitting role,” explained Hogg.
“It’s about trying to start our attacks and stop the opposition mounting their own.
“The aim is to read games in order to get into the areas in which you are most effective and best able to cover for other players.
“It’s enjoyable because you are able to get on the ball and try to drive the team up the pitch.”