Luke Young accepts that Aston Villa have missed injured captain Martin Laursen in defence and attack.
Laursen is unlikely to play again this season after suffering the latest in a long line of knee problems in January.
Villa had been well placed to secure UEFA Champions League qualification at the start of 2009 but their challenge has faded after a poor run of results.
Martin O'Neill's men have not kept a clean sheet in their past eight matches and Young believes the absence of Laursen has been a major factor.
Young also feels Laursen is a threat at the other end of the pitch with his aerial prowess.
"Martin has been a big loss for us. He is one of those players, a little bit like a magnet in both penalty boxes," Young said of his fellow defender.
"He wins everything when we are defending and he goes up the other end of the pitch, he scores some vital goals - and players like that are vital.
"It relieves so much pressure when you see him going up and winning absolutely everything in the air. He is a big loss to us and fingers crossed he can get back."
Young admits it would be dangerous to hurry Laursen back into action but he is confident the 31-year-old can eventually put his injury problems behind him.
"When you've got problems with your knees, you can't rush things," said Young.
"You've got to make sure you are 100 per cent right and hopefully he can get himself right and that we will see the best of him again."
Villa have now slipped seven points behind Arsenal in the battle for fourth spot but Young is still aiming for a strong finish to the season.
He said: "The season we've had overall sort of gets overshadowed with the bad run we've been on.
"A couple of months ago we were riding high, everything was positive, we were on such a great run, and trying to get Champions League football.
"It has taken the gloss off the end of the season a little bit but hopefully with the last five games we can pick it up again and give a good account of ourselves."