Aston Villa midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker may not play again until April after suffering a stress fracture to his ankle in training.
Scans have confirmed that the former West Ham United man's injury will keep him sidelined for three months, meaning he will miss a large chunk of Villa's attempts to clinch a top-four spot in the Premier League this season.
"Nigel will be out for some considerable time - it's turned out to be a stress fracture - so he might miss 12 weeks," Villa boss Martin O'Neill told the club's official website. "That's a major blow to us."
Reo-Coker has endured a difficult season. In September he was suspended by the club after a training ground fracas with O'Neill. The confrontation flared up when Reo-Coker took offence at criticism aimed at him during a training session.
O'Neill explained at the time that it was "more a verbal thing" with none of the "rolling around on the ground" after initial reports had suggested that there was physical contact between the two men.
Since the spat, Reo-Coker has started only five matches with most of his time spent on the substitute's bench.