Emile Heskey will miss the clash with Fulham after picking up a knee injury.

Heskey tore the medial meniscus in his right knee yesterday in training [Wednesday] with no other player involved in the incident.

The injury will require an operation and the powerful forward faces between three to four weeks out of action.

The striker has bagged three goals in six games since Gerard Houllier’s arrival and his absence will be a blow to the new boss.

With Gabby Agbonlahor also sidelined through injury, the manager could well turn to John Carew for the match with Fulham, with Nathan Delfouneso another option after his impressive reserve performance in the 2-0 away win over Arsenal.

Meanwhile, Steve Sidwell faces a race against time to make the weekend clash after suffering a flu bug – but Ciaran Clark should be fit after shaking off a deadleg.

Manager Houllier confirmed Sidwell was absent from training yesterday [Wednesday] with gastroenteritis although he is still hopeful the attacking midfielder may play a part at Craven Cottage.

Meanwhile, Clark is confident he will be fit to face Mark Hughes’s side despite struggling with a deadleg sustained against Birmingham City.

The 20-year-old said: “I got a deadleg and then took one in the nose from their keeper, but I’m feeling good now.

“The deadleg is still a little bit stiff but I managed to get through training so we will see how it is.

“Then the keeper came out and caught me – but it was ‘face on’ luckily. If it’d been from the side, it might have been a bit worse but it was just bleeding. It was fine in the end.

“I should be fit. It’s a little stiff now after training but that’s expected.

“I will come into training today [Thursday] and I should be fine. It was caused by a knee on the quad and it just stiffened up after that. I carried on.

“But I woke up the next day and it was really stiff. I have been having treatment over the last couple of days. I trained and it felt good.”

Clark also feels he should have been awarded a penalty for the move which caused his bloody nose against Blues, when Ben Foster came charging out to clear the ball and only succeeded in clattering the defender-cum-midfielder.

But he says that’s in the past now and Villa should look forward.

He added: “If it was outside the box, I think it would have been a free-kick.

“But there’s not much to say. It didn’t get given and we just have to get on with it now.”