NEWCASTLE Eagles are facing a mid-season injury crisis after Damon Huffman and Fab Flournoy were ruled out of this weekend’s BBL Trophy clash with Worcester.
Huffman is facing between two and four weeks on the sidelines with a hip flexor problem while Flournoy – who had a stint in hospital with gastroenteritis last month – has pulled his groin.
Flournoy is waiting for a detailed prognosis of his injury, which was suffered in the demolition of local rivals Durham on Sunday, but Huffman looks certain to miss the rest of February’s games.
Joe Chapman stepped in to play point guard on Sunday to good effect but with two players potentially out for a critical game, it puts strain on their rotation.
“To lose Damon was bad but then my own injury is a real blow. But that’s sport and sport is cruel,” Flournoy said.
“With Damon, it’s a hip flexor problem that he picked up in practice, it’s going to be between two and four weeks for him.”
On his own injury, he added: “I’ll be speaking to the doctor over the next 24 hours, but it is just one of those things .
“I was sliding for the ball and felt it and it has just been icing it and rest today – now I’m just waiting to hear the extent of the damage.
“It is really unfortunate because we were starting to play extremely well. Obviously we had the cup defeat but since then we’ve been really good and the response from the guys has been exactly what I wanted.
“To get the two injuries when we’re just hitting top form is a blow.” The injury problems mirror the situation two years ago when the Eagles’ campaign was blighted by knocks to their key men.
The problem is that in Huffman and Flournoy, they have two players who have shared the majority of the point guard duties this season.
The head coach does not envisage any problems asking others to fill in though, pointing out the contribution of Chapman and Charles Smith in the defeat of Durham.
The anxiety that Flournoy has is whether his team has enough strength in depth to cope with the upcoming “wars”. Their quarter-final clash with Worcester kicks off a run of critical games for table-topping Newcastle, who are being chased hard by Leicester.
“It’s not about someone coming in. We’re a team with enough talent and ability to shoulder the injuries,” he said.
“People might ask about who replaces Damon but I think Joe Chapman answered those questions on Sunday. With myself and Damon out he played point, he scored a triple double, got 11 assists and ten rebounds.
“Joe is great at point, Anthony Martin is excellent there too and Charles Smith’s performance spoke for itself.
“But it is not about someone running the show, it is about people sharing the responsibilities. The problem that we have is not that we haven’t got the talent to go and win these games, it is that we don’t have a particularly deep roster at the moment.
“Last year we found the problem was that every team that came up against us tried to make it a war of attrition. We were able to build up big leads but then those teams wore us down over the course of the later stages.
“So it is up to the guys now to stay out of foul trouble, to play smart, to converse their energy and to play intelligently. I think we can do that – the team has been set up that way.”