Manchester United defender Chris Smalling will miss the start of the new season after having surgery on a metatarsal injury, the club have confirmed.
The 22-year-old missed the end of last season and was ruled out of Euro 2012 and the Olympics after he suffered a groin injury against Swansea City, but had been expected to be fit for the start of the 2012-13 campaign.
However, he is now set for a further spell on the sidelines with manager Sir Alex Ferguson revealing the defender has already gone under the knife.
“He got an injury on the Wednesday and, straight away, we decided to have the operation so he’s out,” Sir Alex told MUTV.
“It’s difficult to say with a metatarsal but it could be 10 weeks.
“He’s not carrying any luck, the kid, but he’s young and we’ve done the right thing in getting it done immediately and getting him back on the road as quickly as we can.”
The news will be a big blow to Manchester United who already have defensive problems ahead of the new season.
Centre-back Jonny Evans has yet to return to training after breaking a foot whilst Nemanja Vidic missed most of the last campaign after rupturing his cruciate ligament in December of last year.