Arsenal forward Robin van Persie has been ruled out for up to five months after the club said Saturday he will need surgery on the ankle injury he sustained during international duty.
The lengthy recovery will leave Arsenal without van Persie until the final matches of the season, which also means his playing time will have been limited before going to the World Cup in June with the Netherlands.
The 26-year-old forward tore ankle ligaments during the international friendly against Italy on Nov. 11 and was initially expected to return to action within six weeks.
But new tests showed that the damage was more extensive, with three ligaments ruptured in the right ankle, and he is likely to be out until the final weeks of the Premier League season.
Following reconstructive surgery next week in Amsterdam, a full recovery will take between four and five months, Arsenal said.
"It is so frustrating to be out for months," van Persie said. "I was having a super season with the team. I had never felt as strong and powerful as this year. Apart from, I think, two matches, I either scored or made goals in all the games we played this season.
"I was getting so strong, that I felt nobody could stop me anymore. That is the greatest feeling you can have as a player. It is such a pity that great run has been stopped for the time being by one kick in a friendly international match."
Van Persie defended his decision to visit a Belgrade clinic to see Marijana Kovacevic, who has a reputation as a miracle healer for sports injuries by using horse placenta.
"If I had known at the time what I know now, I would have been operated [on] immediately," van Persie told Arsenal's website from Rotterdam. "We have all been steered in the wrong direction. I have never wanted to go for alternative medical help before. Normally I am too cool for that kind of thing.
"But because I wanted to grab every opportunity to get fit again and to be back on the pitch with Arsenal, I decided to have a go … [it] is not a bizarre thing. I did not have anything injected in my body."
Van Persie's absence is a major blow to manager Arsene Wenger, who is without forward Nicklas Bendtner for about another two weeks following groin surgery.
Eduardo da Silva and Carlos Vela will be relied on for goals to end Arsenal's five-year trophy drought.
But Eduardo has sustained various niggles since returning earlier this year from a broken leg and Vela, who has also been plagued by injury problems, has not been tested consistently in the Premier League.
Wenger may choose to deploy Theo Walcott as a central striker, a role the England international used to play in the second tier at Southampton. But Walcott has just returned from an injury that left him sidelined since the pre-season.