Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini could be out of action until May, manager Alan Pardew has said.
Coloccini, 31, injured his back attempting a bicycle kick during the 4-2 victory over Southampton at St James' Park last month.
Pardew said his captain had returned to his home country, Argentina, for seven days on leave as he begins his recovery.
"There's no treatment he can have - he's broken two of the bones in his back," he told the Shields Gazette. "We think it's going to be anything between three and seven weeks."
Meanwhile, Pardew is hoping for positive news on the fitness of Papiss Cisse. The Senegalese striker has been ruled out of Thursday's Europa League tie at Anzhi Makhachkala through illness, but the manager hopes he will return in time for Sunday's clash against Stoke.
"It's something we'll have to overcome," he said. "It's a virus, but the doc doesn't think it's going to kick in for too long. But we obviously need him to train on Friday to get some air in his lungs. Nevertheless, we've got great players in this team."