City's Great Escape bid has received a hammer blow with the news that Moses Ashikodi suffered a suspected broken leg at Brighton.

The on-loan Watford striker was injured as he tried to get in a close-range shot towards the end of Saturday's crucial 1-0 win.

Ashikodi was stretchered off the pitch and David Wetherall last night received the dreaded news about the full extent of his problem.

Just two weeks after losing Marc Bridge-Wilkinson for the rest of the season, Ashikodi has returned to Vicarage Road and may have to undergo surgery in the next few days.

"Our first thoughts are with the boy, who is obviously very upset," said City caretaker boss Wetherall.

"But it is also a big blow for us because in the last three games he had shown what we'd brought him in for.

"Moses has become an important player for us because he is a handful for opposition defences and he was forming a good partnership with Billy Paynter.

"We hoped initially it was nothing too serious but unfortunately that's not how it's turned out.

"We're very disappointed to be losing Moses to the cause but we've got to stay positive and it will mean a chance for other people."

Spencer Weir-Daley is likely to slip straight in for next weekend's crunch home clash with Leyton Orient.

Another win would lift City out of the bottom four after Paynter's 35th-minute goal on Saturday moved them to within two points of the London side.

Paynter was also in the wars after a fierce challenge from Adam El-Abd inside the first minute but he managed to soldier on and grabbed the all-important winner after Kelly Youga's header from a corner had come back off the bar.

Wetherall said: "Billy got a bang on his lower leg and showed great desire to carry on.

"We had Spencer warming up and at one point we were ready to make the switch but we gave Billy a couple of minutes to see if it would settle and it did sufficiently for him to stay out there."

Saturday's 1-0 win in the sweltering heat was City's first clean sheet since January 6 and only their second win under Wetherall's command.

He said: "There were a lot of encouraging things in all departments of the team. The character and application was first rate and it's difficult to pick anybody out.

"I said beforehand that if we win four games we stay up. We've won one out of the four so far and we'll keep believing.

"The pace was taken out of the game in the first half because of the heat but we battled our socks off and then in the second played much, much better.

"The first question people ask in the dressing room is how everyone else has got on but we can't worry about other teams. There's no point thinking about what we can't control - it's down to what we do."

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