England winger Steward Downing will miss next month's World Cup qualifiers after Middlesbrough confirmed he needs surgery on a foot injury.
The 24-year-old damaged his right foot against Aston Villa last weekend and a scan has confirmed he will need an operation which is expected to rule him out for around three months.
Boro assistant boss Malcolm Crosby told the club's website, mfc.co.uk: "He is out for two or three months at least."
England play Kazakhstan and Andorra in June as Fabio Capello's side look to secure qualification for the 2010 finals in South Africa.
Crosby added: "I think Stewart is going to be out for two or three months at least. That's not good news for him or the club.
"Stewart has played every game for us this season and has made a big contribution. He hasn't scored goals, but he has worked extremely hard."
The tests carried out so far have not confirmed a fracture, and medics are waiting for the swelling to go down before they can make a full assessment. But even if there is no break, Downing will require surgery.
Crosby said: "Stewart is facing an operation and will be very frustrated.
"I have looked at the challenge again by (Stiliyan) Petrov and, while it was a clumsy challenge, I think it was an accident.
"I don't think that for one minute he meant to do it. Injuries are part of the game and you get used to them happening when you least want them."
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