Niko Kranjcar has been ruled out of Portsmouth’s trip to Manchester United on Wednesday – but fears he could miss the rest of the season have been allayed.
The Croatia international, 24, was stretchered off with a damaged ankle in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Bolton at Fratton Park after paramedics carrying oxygen equipment rushed to the scene.
However, a preliminary X-ray has revealed no fracture nor serious damage to ligaments, and manager Paul Hart said: “He is looking a lot better today. We are hopeful he will be back sooner rather than later.
“He’s a quick healer, a boy with a strong and positive mental attitude, and that’s a big boost for us because he’s an integral part of our plans and has been doing well.”
Hart will know more about Kranjcar’s condition – the attacking midfielder needed an ankle operation in August for damaged ligaments that kept him out for two months – after a full scan on the latest injury, but Pompey doctor Nigel Sellars said: “It seems clear it is only soft tissue damage and hopefully not long term.”
Defender Younes Kaboul, however, is a big doubt for the clash at Old Trafford after missing training with the thigh muscle injury that saw him replaced in the closing minutes against Bolton.
After United, Pompey have a key game at Newcastle next Monday when they can practically cement their Premier League survival for another season following only one defeat in Hart’s eight games in charge.
The manager may decide to revert England star Glen Johnson to his natural right-back role and recall winger Jermaine Pennant against the champions and league leaders.
Midfielder Sean Davis is set to be cleared to play despite reopening a cut to his knee against Bolton in his comeback from two games out.
Hart added: “Although it’s a smallish squad, we know we’ve got players who can come in and do the job for us and there is no way we are going to Old Trafford just to lie down and roll over.
“There is no reason why we can’t cause them problems, even though they’re the best team in the world, and get something out of it if we prepare the right way.”