Aston Villa's hopes of clinching a top-four finish this season have been rocked by the news that key defender Martin Laursen will be sidelined until mid-March.
The 31-year-old Denmark international has been forced to have knee surgery that will keep him sidelined for eight weeks.
Laursen has been plagued by knee problems during his career and has not featured for Villa since the 2-1 derby win at home to West Bromwich Albion earlier this month.
Earlier in the week boss Martin O'Neill had played down Laursen's latest problem, saying: "He's already had some scans but, at the moment, the results seem to be a little unclear.
"We're going to try and manage it. We'll try and get him pain-free for the games and see if he's comfortable with that.
"We'll take it on from there. Obviously we miss him because he's been such a big player for us."
Laursen's absence is the latest blow for O'Neill as Ashley Young is suspended for the next three games following his red card at Sunderland last weekend.