Everton manager David Moyes is without two of his star midfielders for Sunday's match against Liverpool after seeing Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar both ruled out of the big derby showdown.
South African Pienaar has a groin problem, whilst Fellaini injured his hamstring on international duty with Belgium and is likely to be out for at least a month.
Speaking about the Belgian to Sky Sports, Moyes said: "It is a very big blow because he is an important player for us."
Moyes did receive some good news about Phil Jagielka though. The hamstring injury that saw him withdraw from the England squad is not as bad as first thought, but the defender is still likely to miss this Sunday's important clash.
"He is not as bad as we first thought but it may just come too quick for him - that is the way it is looking at this moment in time," Moyes confirmed.
Losing two key players is not ideal preparation for an Everton side that are already missing young stars Jack Rodwell and Victor Anichebe. The game is also likely to come too soon for striker Louis Saha.
Everton have been plagued with injuries for the opening months of the last few Premier League campaigns but Moyes will be hoping that the team he does field will have the incentive of the derby atmosphere at Goodison Park to spur them on.
Both Everton and Liverpool are in the bottom four of the Premier League with six points each and this will certainly add extra spice to a derby that has not failed to live up to expectations in recent years.
Everton supporters will be hoping that the loss of their two key midfielders will not harm their chances too much, although it will surely mean that the team will be relying even more on the likes of Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta if they are to gain a crucial three points and continue to pile on the misery for Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson.