MIDDLESBROUGH could be without Darragh Lenihan for a prolonged period after the defender suffered a foot injury that kept him out of today’s FA Cup third-round defeat to Brighton.

Lenihan was not in the squad as Boro crashed to a 5-1 defeat at the hands of their Premier League opponents, with Paddy McNair taking his place at the heart of the back four.

Speaking after the game, Michael Carrick revealed that Lenihan was absent because of a foot injury sustained in training yesterday.

Boro’s medical staff will conduct a more detailed assessment of the problem in the next couple of days, with Carrick hoping the centre-half will be ruled out for too lengthy a spell.

The Boro boss said: “Unfortunately, Darragh felt something under his foot, towards his toe, in training. It’s disappointing that he couldn’t play today, but it only happened yesterday so I don’t know how long he’s going to be out for and there’s not really an update on that.

“Obviously, we’re hopeful that he won’t be out for too long because he’s a big part of what we do, but injuries happen and it’s something we’ve got to deal with. We’ll just have to take it as it comes.”