With just over three weeks to go to the start of the African Nations Cup, Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp has bemoaned the loss of two of his first choice defenders to the tournament.
Though Redknapp was quick to accept that every manager is aware that the competition comes around every two years before signing players from Africa, it does not soften the blow when they head off for a month.
While Gareth Bale is on hand to slot in at left-back with Assou-Ekotto away, Redknapp's real problems are in central defence with Jonathan Woodgate out of action long-term and Ledley King suffering with a persistent knee problem.
Spurs are likely to be without the duo for the trip to Liverpool and the visit of Hull City. Depending on how far Cameroon go in the tournament, they could also miss a home game against Fulham as well as an away day at Birmingham City.
"It's a disaster really, a disaster for us losing a couple of players,'' Redknapp said. "When you sign them I guess you know you're going to lose them every couple of years playing in those games. It's a chance you take.
"We'll be okay at left-back. Gareth Bale's training great and looking okay, doing well. But we've got a problem obviously at centre-half if one of the other two boys don't get fit - if Ledley or Woody don't get fit. That is a problem.
"I've got four centre-halves and if one of the other two comes back we'll be okay. (Vedran) Corluka can play there, Tom (Huddlestone) can play there as well.''
One player who does seem to be on his way out is David Bentley, who is desperate to play first team football. And with Roman Pavlyuchenko unable to get a look in, he too will hope to move on in January. But Redknapp will only deal at the right price.
"David feels he needs to move on and play,'' the 62-year-old added. "Obviously Pav wants to move but we are not mad to sell them. They are not going cheap and are both good players.''