AITOR KARANKA has revealed Rhys Williams was in tears when his World Cup hopes were put in serious jeopardy after the Middlesbrough defender had to leave the Riverside Stadium on crutches last night.
Williams, who has enjoyed a recent return to form under the Spaniard, suffered a suspected ruptured Achilles injury just before half-time in the goalless draw with Wigan Athletic.
He will be assessed over the next few days to determine the true extent of the problem, although it is already feared he will not make a recovery in time to make the Aussies' World Cup squad.
It will bring back memories of 2010, when Williams also had to miss the summer finals in South Africa with a pelvic problem.
Karanka said: “It looks like it is going to be long term. It is a serious injury for him, it is Achilles but I don’t know how bad and I hope as soon as possible he can play again.
“He is with the doctor to check him, his face and doctor's face were not good. I couldn’t speak with him because he was very bad, he was crying and it was a difficult moment for him.
“I wish him all the best and to be with us as soon as possible, and to play in the World Cup but I don’t know if he can play.”
The 25-year-old's latest injury woe, having already had previous long term pelvic and ankle problems, was suffered in the middle of the pitch as he tried to turn and it could have struck a huge blow in to Middlesbrough's transfer plans too.
With Celtic and Swansea City among those to have been interested in the versatile centre-back, if he had moved on before Friday night's transfer deadline then the cash raised could have helped Middlesbrough's search for a striker.
Karanka, who conceded Seb Hines' proposed move to Birmingham may have to be abandoned, said: “We have to see how the injury is because I heard that Rhys had offers from other clubs.
“We are working to bring one player here . I think we work very hard on this and have two or three names to work on. We will get a victory for him on Saturday and to go to Doncaster to win the game for Rhys.”
Middlesbrough are actively pursuing a number of attacking targets. Sunderland's Danny Graham, on loan at Hull, Genk's expensive Jelle Vossen, Norwich's Luciano Becchio and Wolves' Kevin Doyle are all on the radar.
But it has emerged that Ipswich Town are also in the running for Doyle, so Middlesbrough are having to consider a variety of options.
Sources in South Wales suggest Andreas Cornelius has emerged as another candidate after a frustrating time for the Dane since an £8m switch to Cardiff from Copenhagen last summer.
Middlesbrough's goalless draw with Wigan highlighted the need for greater firepower and, after allowing Lukas Jutkiewicz to join Bolton on loan until the end of the season, there is another gap in the squad.
But Karanka knows he needs his side to improve in the final third if Middlesbrough are to close a seven-point gap to the play-offs after last night's draw.
He said: “The score is a fair result we didn’t have a lot of chances and they didn’t as well. It was a very similar game for both teams and we had the Rhys injury.
“I didn’t like the first half, we didn’t play well, the second half we started better but we didn’t score and one point is important. When you can’t win it is important not to lose and add points.
“We are looking at bringing in a new striker. Our strikers need to score more goals. That is why we are looking before Friday.”