City face a race against time to find yet more defensive loan cover after John Egan became the latest serious casualty.

The Sunderland centre half was rushed into hospital for an operation last night after suffering a suspected broken leg in the 1-0 win over Plymouth.

Phil Parkinson and his physio staff dashed to his bedside after the scrappy victory, which moved City to within a point of the automatic League Two promotion places.

And the Bantams boss will have to rush to line up a replacement before tomorrow’s tea-time deadline for the emergency loan window.

Parkinson had already planned a meeting with the two chairmen for this afternoon – and that will take on added urgency with the shocking news about Egan.

“We’ve got some work to do because we’re having some horrendous luck to lose three centre halves and suffer the injuries we’ve had,” said Parkinson. “We can’t do nothing about it and then at the end of the season say we were unlucky. We’ve got to rectify it and we can only do that by bringing players in because we’re stretched to the limit.”

Early indications suggested the Republic of Ireland under-21 international had broken both the fibia and tibula in his right leg in the 13th-minute fall.

Parkinson admitted: “We are pleased with the win but my thoughts are firmly with John. It’s too early to speculate what he’s actually done but it didn’t look good.”

Gary Jones netted the only goal and his manager was delighted with the skipper’s contribution.

“I’m really pleased for him because he just wants to win so badly. His desire stands out every single game.

“Gaz had to play a more conservative role earlier in the season when we had the two out-and-out wide players. You can’t empty that midfield too often, too quickly or you get punished on the counter-attack.

“But obviously with Will (Atkinson) on one side who’s got more discipline in his game, it gives Gary licence to break forward.

“It was a difficult game. We started well but the injury changed the mood in the ground slightly.

“We got the goal, which lifted everyone again, but Plymouth then played a very direct style in the second half. They put the ball on the back four because I suppose they smelt a weakness with us losing a centre half.

“But I thought the back four and Dukey (Matt Duke) handled it really well. There were two big moments for us, the captain scoring a goal and then Dukey making a really good save right on half-time.”

Parkinson heaped extra praise on Egan’s fellow Irish defender Carl McHugh, who stepped into the breach after the early injury.

The Bantams boss said: “When you see someone who’s a good mate stretchered off, it can be difficult to then have to come on and focus on the game.

“I thought Carl was tremendous. He’s been a great acquisition for us and deserves a special mention.

“We’ve got a good set of lads here and you could see how much they wanted it. This time last year, we might just have conceded late in the game, but there’s a steeliness about this side.”