Leighton Baines is set to be sidelined for around three months after undergoing ankle surgery, Everton have announced.
The England and Toffees full-back went under the knife on Thursday to correct the problem he sustained in training on the eve of the Barclays Premier League campaign.
Everton confirmed that the injury had been repaired but that the 30-year-old now faces a lengthy period of rehabilitation before he can return to first-team action.
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A statement on www.evertonfc.com read: "Left-back Leighton Baines has undergone a successful ankle operation but is set to be missing for the next 12 to 14 weeks."
The England international has played a pivotal role in Everton's rise from a mid-table side to one capable of challenging for Europa League, if not Champions League, places, and will come as a major blow to Roberto Martinez.
The Spaniard might face an issue as to who can replace the crocked Baines in his absence, with Brian Oviedo, a midfielder by trade, seemingly the strongest alternative. Elsewhere, veteran right-back Tony Hibbert could also be deployed in what would be an unfamiliar position.