Brian McBride may be on course to return to the Fulham first team by Christmas, but manager Lawrie Sanchez still has an injury crisis, with eight players on the sidelines.

The American striker, 35, who was hurt in the act of scoring against Middlesbrough in only the third game of the Premier League season, has had a ruptured quadriceps muscle surgically repaired and is confident of returning to full training in a few weeks.

The story has become a familiar theme this season, with Craven Cottage at times resembling a hospital casualty ward.

Winger Lee Cook, who has yet to play for the club since his £3 million summer move from Queens Park Rangers, still faces up to six more weeks on the sidelines after damaging a knee.

Kasey Keller, the reserve goalkeeper and like McBride another US international veteran, is out for 10 weeks after surgery on a torn bicep tendon in his left shoulder.

Then there is midfielder Jimmy Bullard, who has been out for more than a year after damaging cruciate knee ligaments early last season.

The former Wigan Athletic player is still up to eight weeks away from rejoining the first-team squad for full training according to Jason Palmer, Fulham’s head physio.

“Jimmy is training with the Under-18s and will progress over the next few weeks to reserve-team training sessions,” Palmer said .

French centre half Philippe Christanval, out all season with a knee injury, has now damaged a toe which may need an operation while Ian Pearce, with a ongoing calf problem, is likely to be out for the rest of the year.

Defender Moritz Volz has seen specialists in both London and his native Germany over his injured shoulder and is expected to be back training in 10 days, but midfielder Simon Elliott is on a long-term programme of recovery from calf and Achilles problems and could miss another full season.

Nathan Ashton, 20, has given Fulham some brighter news, however. After making his debut at left back in the 3-1 win over Reading he pulled a muscle in his left leg and missed last week’s defeat at Liverpool, but Palmer said: “With the international break, we have used the time to make sure he will be available for our next game against Blackburn.”