Sunderland's busy schedule is becoming a headache admits Lee Johnson - although he refused to let it take the shine off the Black Cats reaching the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup.
Last night's penalty shootout win against QPR sent Sunderland into the last eight of the competiton but it came at a cost with Denver Hume limping off with an ankle injury in the first half, while several other players picked up knocks.
And the Black Cats have only limited recovery time before they resume their League One campaign with a trip to promotion rivals Rotherham United on Saturday, which is followed by another visit to South Yorkshire to take on Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday.
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Sunderland have played 13 league games so far, but have also had six cup games - four in the Carabao Cup plus two in the EFL trophy - and that has made big demands on Johnson's squad.
"With Denver it's a contact injury that's rocked his ankle," said Johnson.
"I hope it's not bad news.
"We have come out of it [the QPR game] physically damaged a little bit.
"Four or five players have come out with knocks, so the next 48 or 72 hours are really big for us because we've got another really big game on Saturday.
"If you look at the statistics in depth in the way that we do, they are right up there as one of the top sides in the division.
"It's a really tough game and we're going to have to rejuvenate the group.
"I don't want to be negative, because it really wasn't a night for that, but it is a difficult schedule.
"Things will come to the fore later on, there's going to be times when teams will get an extra day or two rest.
"That makes it difficult to keep churning it out and play with that zip if you can't make changes."
The cup win came after Sunderland lost their perfect home record when they were beaten 1-0 by Charlton Athletic at the weekend, with Johnson saying afterwards that his side had not looked their usual selves.
He said: "I could smell that Charlton game [coming].
"Hopefully we'll be able to rotate but you always want some consistency as well.
"But all I'll say is at least the lads have clarity, and we'll always have quality.
"Hopefully we'll be able to keep churning out results."
Sunderland's win at QPR means they will be in the quarter-final draw, which takes place on Saturday.
The quarter-final ties will be played just before Christmas, in the week beginning December 20.