Reading's Steve Coppell may need to bring in defensive cover during the January transfer window after two of his centre-backs were called up for international duty.
Coppell had already been given the all clear to bolster his squad in the New Year after injuries to John Oster and Glen Little, his two right-wingers.
The news that Ibrahima Sonko and Andre Bikey will be off to represent Senegal and Cameroon at the African Cup of Nations now means that the Royals will also be short at the back.
Coppell is expected to recall Alan Bennett and Sam Sodje from loan spells at Southampton and Charlton respectively, but is also hopeful that his African duo will not be away for too long.
"I wasn't really expecting Sonko to say he was going to play but I fully sympathise and respect his decision," the manager said.
"From my point of view, it gives me something to think about that ordinarily I wouldn't have bothered about.
"But you can't 'crystal ball-gaze' because you don't know how long they are going to be away for. It might only be two league games. In a way, I hope they don't do well, but that will be contrary to their thinking.
"We will certainly be looking in January just to see what is about. If you could have, long-term, someone you think is right you would certainly do it in January, but realistically you are looking for a short-term fix."
Before the transfer window opens though, Reading will be hoping for a successful Christmas period to lift them away from the drop zone.
The Royals' first test will a home game with struggling Sunderland on Saturday, and striker Dave Kitson believes that the players need to make the Madejski a fortress over the coming weeks.
"Everyone in the lower half is finding it tough," he said.
"You look at where Sunderland are in the table and where we are, and we have already said we have to beat those teams.
"With four games in 11 days, it becomes even more important, especially as a home game. You have to look at taking maximum points from your home games over Christmas and see what you get away."