As a dismayed Graeme Souness contemplated a particularly grim bulletin from Newcastle United's medical staff yesterday, Freddy Shepherd declared that he still expects the club to qualify for Europe this season.
Souness has recently appeared to do little but lament Newcastle's ever-lengthening injury list and bemoan his paucity of transfer-window money but his chairman yesterday hinted that it was time for such whingeing to stop.
"Sometimes people can look at the negatives too much," said Shepherd in what will be construed as an implicit criticism of his manager. "Yes, we have injuries but people shouldn't forget that we still have a lot of quality players and experienced internationals available."
While Stephen Carr, the Republic of Ireland right-back, underwent his second hernia operation in three months in London yesterday, Shola Ameobi was pencilled in for hip surgery on Monday and Steven Taylor announced that his shoulder problem was likely to keep him out for the rest of the season.
Undeterred, Shepherd, whose relationship with Souness has lately become so frosty that the pair are understood to barely be on speaking terms, maintained Newcastle should aim high.
"This is a time for everyone associated with Newcastle United - from the boardroom to the coaching and playing staff and all our loyal fans - to be positive and go for it," said the chairman.
"We still have 10 home matches to play in the Premiership and that's 30 points so I don't understand why people are saying we can't qualify for Europe. Nothing has been decided yet.
"I still believe we can qualify for Europe; you have to be positive when there are so many games left. There are three months of the season remaining and anything can still happen."
Souness, currently without Michael Owen and Scott Parker and several other first choices such as Belozoglu Emre, is apparently expecting the worst. Explaining that a decision had yet to be taken on whether Ameobi should have a steroid injection in his hip, which would enable him to play on, or undergo season-ending surgery on Monday, the Scot seemed like pessimism personified. Moreover, he raised the possibility of Alan Shearer also succumbing to injury.
"God forbid if anything was to happen to Alan Shearer," said Souness. "If it did we'd be in terrible trouble. I don't think anybody needs me to tell them how disastrous that would be."
Shepherd, although unwilling to back the manager financially after seeing much of the ?50m made available to him last year dubiously invested in players such as Albert Luque, Jean-Alain Boumsong, Amdy Faye and Celestine Babayaro, is still endeavouring to facilitate a deal in which Charlton would swap Danny Murphy for Newcastle's Lee Bowyer.
Nevertheless he believes Souness should consider offering some of the club's younger players a chance, pointing out rather tartly that "Newcastle supporters like to see young lads rise through the ranks".
One such youngster is Taylor, the England Under-21 international who is widely regarded as the club's best defender. But having broken down on his return from a shoulder injury last month he has had the joint pinned and will not resume rehabilitation work for at least a month.