Tottenham have been dealt a significant blow in their bid to finish in the top four this season, following news that centre-back Jan Vertonghen damaged knee ligaments during Spurs' victory over Crystal Palace last weekend.
The Belgium international was substituted after a controversial collision with striker Connor Wickham, with the extent of his injury revealed by BBC Sport.
Tottenham released a statement saying: "Our medical staff will continue to monitor his progress during his rehabilitation to determine when he will be ready to return to training."
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News of what is potentially a long-term injury will come as a major worry to Spurs given the Belgian's solid form this season alongside compatriot Toby Alderweireld, the pair forming a formidable partnership at the heart of the club's defence.
Mauricio Pochettino's men have conceded the fewest goals in the league thus far, just 19 in 23 games, due in no small part to the form and consistency of Vertonghen.
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Since arriving at White Hart Lane in 2012, the 28-year-old has established himself as one of the Premier League's best defenders.
The injury came about when Vertonghen appeared to fall awkwardly after an intentional elbow from Palace's Wickham. The FA have since punished the Englishman for violent conduct and could issue a three-match ban.
Medial ligament damage often results in three months on the sidelines, which is likely to give Pochettino a headache with regards to alternatives. The Argentine has Kevin Winner and Federico Fazio, both of whom established central defenders, at his disposal, but might opt for Eric Dier.
However, the fact Dier has shown such consistency in midfield might force Pochettino to look elsewhere and delve into the January transfer window.
Stoke City's Ryan Shawcross has often been cited as a transfer target of Tottenham's, though the 28-year-old recently sustained an injury of his own which could keep him out of action for a month.
Pochettino will likely wait for an estimated length of absence before he decides the best port of call, but one thing is for sure: Vertonghen's injury couldn't be more untimely amidst a season where Tottenham look like genuine contenders for the Premier League crown, let alone a Champions League place.
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