Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Mathieu Debuchy had a successful operation on his injured ankle on Friday, but is now facing at least three months on the sidelines before being considered ready for first-team action.
Debuchy suffered the nasty knock against Manchester City nine days ago and has been forced to wait before finding the right course of treatment, after scans confirmed broken angle ligaments.
Gunners medical staff took their time before eventually deciding the French international required surgery, but Wenger today told the Evening Standard's chief football correspondent James Olley that he'll be without a key figure until Christmas at the earliest.
Terrible news for injury-hit Arsenal
Wenger is quoted as revealing:“He had surgery on Friday and will be out for three months. A reasonable delay is three months.
"All went well, but it can be a week or two earlier or a week or two later, but it will be around three months.
"It is a blow of course, how big it will be we will only know afterwards because it will be down to how well we replace him. We bought Chambers for that.”
The news leaves Arsenal looking threadbare at right-back to say the very least, although Calum Chambers played in that position for the first time since completing a £16m switch from Southampton in the summer against Aston Villa.
Chambers helped Arsenal keep their first clean sheet of the season at Villa Park, but even so the Gunners will now have to be far more reliant on the 19-year-old than Wenger would have liked.
Bellerin will now be consistent first-team feature
Alternatively Wenger could give Hector Bellerin another chance to shine, after the youngster coped relatively well the daunting task of facing Borussia Dortmund last week.
Bellerin was no worse than his team-mates on a poor night in the Champions League and is expected to feature against Southampton in the Capital One Cup tomorrow, moving into Wenger's first-team plans more quickly than anyone could have imagined.
Even if both maintain a consistent level of performance Debuchy's injury is a huge blow for Arsenal, robbed of an experienced international that Wenger paid £12m for to replace Bacary Sagna.
Across the board Arsenal look short defensively, an Achilles heel that could cost them dear unless the likes of Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Kieran Gibbs can stay injury free until January at least.
Throw in Olivier Giroud's absence and Theo Walcott working his way back to fitness and yet again Arsenal's injury curse has reared its ugly head, although the Gunners do have plenty of attacking options to hopefully keep their season just about on track.