Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa has been ruled out until the New Year, manager Alan Pardew has confirmed.
The France international suffered a hamstring injury in the Europa League draw with Maritimo last month and then aggravated the problem on his return against Fulham.
Ben Arfa sat out Saturday's defeat to Manchester City, and Pardew has now revealed that he will not be risked over the busy festive season.
"There is a danger he could tear his hamstring," said Pardew, who is also without midfielder Yohan Cabaye until February.
"If he did that he would be out for two or three months whereas if we do it the right way and be sensible about it, it may only be three weeks. And obviously that is the route we are going to take."
Newcastle have won only one of their last eight league games, and Pardew admitted he was wary of being dragged into a relegation scrap.
He said: "From now until January, it's going to be a dogfight. We have got to accept that and dog our way out of it and make sure we beat QPR, and then hopefully get something at Manchester United.
"They are the next two that are on the agenda at the minute. In the last four games, it's very difficult to say that we have only got three points out of those last four games.
"You can just see there's not a lot really wrong, but unfortunately we haven't got a points total that reflects the work we are putting in."