Sheffield Wednesday midfielder David Prutton has been ruled out of the Owls’ relegation battle for the next three months after having surgery on his troublesome ankle.
The 32-year-old midfielder has not played since Wednesday’s 4-1 defeat at Birmingham City on September 21 due to an ankle injury.
It had been hoped the veteran would return for the festive fixtures to boost an Owls side languishing in the Championship relegation zone. But after a trip to a London specialist on Monday, he has undergone surgery and will not be back until well into 2014.
“Pruts is a totally dedicated professional,” said caretaker-manager Stuart Gray. “Knowing him, he’ll try and beat the time scale. But its disappointing, and he’s disappointed he’s not playing for us.”
Prutton’s Owls career looked over last season when he was farmed out on loan at Scunthorpe United, but he returned to form a key partnership with Gile Coke in central midfield which helped Dave Jones’s side avoid relegation.
But Jones has now departed, and with Coke (hamstring) also sidelined, the Owls are short of options in the heart of midfield. Stephen McPhail and Seyi Olofinjana - both on short-term deals - and Jose Semedo will compete for places for tomorrow’s trip to face Watford.
Coke has been doing a bit of running and has an outside chance of being fit for next week, either Wigan on Wednesday or Bournemouth on Saturday.
But right-back Lewis Buxton (groin) is still out for another three to four weeks, while winger Michail Antonio (knee) is at least a fortnight off from returning.
“When we get them back it will be great, but we have to get on with it, and that’s why you have a squad of players,” said former Southampton manager Gray.
The Owls only have two recognised strikers in on-loan Connor Wickham and Atdhe Nuhiu, after Matty Fryatt’s return to Hull City, but are unable to recall forwards Chris Maguire (Coventry City) or Caolan Lavery (Plymouth) from their respective loan deals until after 28 days, which falls on Christmas Day.
That could mean they come into contention for the Boxing Day trip to Blackburn Rovers.
Gray confirmed: “We can’t call Chris Maguire or Caolan Lavery back until Christmas Day.
“At the moment we’re a bit thin, striker-wise. We’re hoping Connor Wickham doesn’t get called back.
“I always believe you defend with 11 and attack with 11. We have Connor, Atdhe Nuhiu, JJ can play in behind, so can Jacques Maghoma probably.”