Sven-Goran Eriksson is bracing himself for the prospect of being without defensive lynchpin John Terry for the climax to England's World Cup qualifying campaign in October.
The England coach has already had to rule the Chelsea centre-back out of the double header with Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday and Northern Ireland in Belfast four days later.
But Terry is facing at least a month on the sidelines with the knee ligament damage suffered during the weekend Premiership clash at Tottenham.
And that is giving Eriksson cause for concern regarding the two qualifiers at Old Trafford against Austria and Poland which could decide whether England top group six.
It also puts a massive question mark over whether Terry will be fit for Chelsea's group match in the Champions League with Liverpool at Anfield on September 28.
Eriksson, who has added Fulham's Zat Knight to his squad, said: 'John Terry came to see us on Tuesday morning but we sent him home. He will not be ready for the Wales game and he will not be ready for Northern Ireland.
'Then we have to see if he will be ready for the October games because the doctors said he will be out for at least four weeks with a knee injury.
'We knew there was a problem on Monday after talks between our medical staff and those at Chelsea. You had better ask our doctor and the Chelsea doctor but I think it is a ligament problem and four weeks is a long time.'
Eriksson would have preferred the presence of Terry to combat the physical threat offered by John Hartson but he has every confidence in Jamie Carragher to fill the breach.
He said: 'I should always like to have John Terry with me. John Hartson is very dangerous because he is big, clever, a good header of the ball, but we have good centre-backs so we have to deal with it.
'Jamie Carragher has improved a lot in the last year. I don't know if it is a Liverpool attitude but he never gives up and the game he played in the Champions League final was incredible.
'I think he had cramp but he didn't leave the pitch. Fantastic. He played left-back for a long time with Liverpool, then right-back sometimes. It has been a huge improvement, even technically. He is a good passer of the ball today.'
The good new for Eriksson is that midfielder Steven Gerrard is expcted to be fit after his calf injury and he was put through his paces by England physio Gary Lewin at Arsenal's London Colney training ground.
The Liverpool captain will go through the same routine on Wednesday with a view to joining in with full training 24 hours later.
England skipper David Beckham will also be back with his team-mates on Wednesday after missing the opening session with a sore foot.
Eriksson has made it clear he will not tolerate a repeat of England's horror show in Denmark a fortnight ago which has resulted in the axe for veteran 'keeper David James.
His players have been made to watch a video of the 4-1 demolition in Copenhagen and suffered in silence.
Eriksson said: 'If I should take them individually, I should slaughter all of them. I prefer not to talk about one player in that second half. It was a collective collapse.
'They have already seen a video. They looked at it but I don't think they liked what they saw. We had examples from the first half when we played well and the second half which was the opposite.
'I talked before and after the video and asked if they wanted to say anything. It was silent. I said it will not happen again. I didn't talk individually about the second half because it was a collective collapse.'