Taylor blow for Magpies
Newcastle defender Steven Taylor is likely to miss the rest of the season as he prepares to undergo surgery on his injured Achilles.
The 25-year-old limped off during the closing stages of Saturday's 3-0 Barclays Premier League defeat by Chelsea, and manager Alan Pardew later admitted the early indications were not good.
His worst fears were realised on Sunday when the club confirmed that Taylor will have an operation on Monday that will leave him facing a lengthy spell of rehabilitation.
A club spokesman said: "Steven sustained an Achilles injury yesterday at the end of our game with Chelsea. After medical assessment, he will be having surgery tomorrow and it is likely he will be out for the rest of the season."
The news, while not unexpected, will come as a huge blow to Pardew, who also saw skipper and Taylor's central defensive partner Fabricio Coloccini limp off during the first half of Saturday's game with a thigh strain.
He will be a doubt for next Saturday's trip to Norwich in which James Perch, who replaced him against Chelsea, is certain to start. Pardew has been able to field the same back five in each of the Magpies' 14 games to date this season, and that has proved a significant factor in the club's fine start.
However, there was always an awareness that, with Mike Williamson still working his way back to fitness after a broken arm and an ankle problem, there was a lack of depth in the defensive area.
That absence of genuine cover has now been exposed and Pardew's squad will be tested to the full as they attempt to negotiate the next few weeks until the manager can attempt to address the situation during the winter transfer window.
Taylor will be a particular miss after proving one of the club's key men in their recent revival.
Greenwich-born, but Tyneside-raised, he has established himself as one of the first names on the team-sheet with a consistency which has led his manager to repeatedly recommend the former England Under-21s captain to senior boss Fabio Capello.