Portsmouth have suffered another blow in their Premiership relegation battle after it was revealed Serbian winger Ognjen Koroman damaged a hamstring in the 2-0 defeat at Chelsea.
Koroman, capped 24 times by Serbia and Montenegro, arrived on a loan from Russian team Terek Grozny last month lacking match-fitness as the domestic season had finished there three months earlier.
But despite two run-outs with the reserves, the 27-year-old had to be replaced after 68 minutes on his Pompey debut at Stamford Bridge and could be doubtful for this Saturday’s visit to Aston Villa.
Pompey boss Harry Redknapp said: “He tweaked a hamstring and we took him off hoping it would not be too late to save him doing more damage.”
Redknapp, who has seen his team take just one point from the last seven league games, added: “It was no surprise we lost but strangely I never felt under great pressure from Chelsea.
“We could have had an equaliser when Richard Hughes missed with a header soon after Frank Lampard’s goal, but now we have got to keep going and put a run together in the last 11 matches.
“Two years ago we stayed up by winning six and drawing three of our last 10 games in which Yakubu scored 11 goals for us. It is a tough task but not impossible with the fixtures we have left.”
A repeat of their 2004 survival form in the final 10 matches would elevate Pompey to 40 points, a figure normally enough to stay up.
They have 18 now and are facing home games with Manchester City, Arsenal, Blackburn, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Liverpool, interspersed with trips to Aston Villa, West Ham, Fulham, Charlton and Wigan.
The weekend’s results made Pompey prospects only marginally worse. They are eight points behind fourth-bottom West Brom and five behind third-bottom Birmingham, who have a game in hand.
Norway striker Azar Karadas impressed as a makeshift centre-back against Chelsea, and Redknapp added: “I thought he did very well at Chelsea. I was going to play Brian Priske there with Andy O’Brien but went for Azar instead.
“The players are having a good go and now the fixtures look a bit kinder for us. So nobody is going to give up until the facts say otherwise.”