Manchester United right-back Antonio Valencia has gone under the knife to remove metal screws from his left foot that have been there as a result of a serious injury he suffered against Glasgow Rangers in the Champions League in 2010.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the scheduled surgery raises huge doubts about the 29-year-old's prospective participation at the Copa America this summer, after officials in Ecuador were only made aware of the pre-planned operation following Sunday's goalless draw with Hull City.
Valencia will now require at least two weeks of rest and recuperation which will delay his availability for next month's showpiece tournament in Chile, and could rule him out of featuring in this year's quadrennial competition altogether.
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Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal won't mind too much as that will make the South American available for the start of pre-season training at the beginning of July, as well as the Premier League giants' tour of the United States.
Ecuador kick-off their campaign against host nation Chile on June 11 in just 16 days time, so the former Wigan Athletic man is unlikely to be rushed back having only had the operation yesterday.
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A picture of Valencia recovering in hospital was posted on his Instagram account just days after he played the full 90 minutes of the weekend stalemate at the KC Stadium which condemned Steve Bruce's side to relegation to the Championship.
The Tigers required all three points against Manchester United and needed West Ham to beat Newcastle at St James' Park. However, the Magpies ran out 2-0 winners so they'd have lost their top-flight status regardless.
As for Valencia, his long-term future at the Theatre of Dreams has been cast into doubt following frequent speculation linking Van Gaal with a move for a number of different right-backs during the summer transfer window.
Southampton's Nathaniel Clyne and Barcelona's Dani Alves are just two of the names most frequently mentioned for prospective moves to Manchester United, which could result in the £16 million signing from 2009 falling down the first-team pecking order.
Manchester United fans: Do you think Antonio Valencia will still be Louis van Gaal's first-choice right-back next season? If not, which player do you think will be brought to Old Trafford? Have your say below...
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