DONCASTER Rovers could be without centre-back Jamie McCombe until after the New Year.
A scan has revealed that the injury he has been carrying recently is more serious than originally thought.
In addition to a torn muscle in the front of his thigh, the former Huddersfield Town star, who has formed one of the best centre-back pairings in League One alongside skipper Rob Jones, also has a hairline fracture of the spine.
“It’s a big blow,” said Rovers boss Dean Saunders, who blamed the situation on ‘wear and tear.’
Saunders may be forced to bring someone in on loan as cover but one bright spot is that Shelton Martis made an impressive seasonal League One debut in the back-four in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Shrewsbury.
“Shelton did well,” said Saunders. “He’s a good player; we’ve just got to get him fit and keep him fit.”
With Jones joining McCombe on the sidelines due to a one-match ban only right-back Paul Quinn of this season’s regular back-four played in his usual position.
So Saunders was delighted to keep a third clean sheet in the last five league games.
“I’m trying to get the team to play football, which we did in the first half, but at times we can’t keep the ball and we are going to have to improve on that aspect.
“I just think we had too many players out there who haven’t played a lot of games and who aren’t match fit and it showed in the second half.”
Saunders admitted that he couldn’t relax as Shrewsbury twice went close to drawing level after the break.
“Iain Hume had a brilliant chance to make it 2-0 and had he done so I could have sat down,” he said. “It was close but we got away with it.”
With Jones, McCombe and Martin Woods (concussion) all ruled out, Saunders admitted that he had been struggling to fill his bench.
He had to recall teenage defender Liam Wakefield from his loan spell at Bradford Park Avenue and he also included non-contract player Michael Woods.
Woods, who is a free agent, has joined the club on trial as he looks to try and rebuild his career after suffering two long-term injuries after moving from Leeds to Chelsea as a teenager.
“He trained with us last week and he looks like a player and he’s a confident lad but I’ve not seen him play in a game,” said Saunders.
“He will either be involved in today’s Under-21 friendly against Barnsley or the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy against Chesterfield tomorrow.”