Sven-Goran Eriksson, the Manchester City manager, has confirmed that Micah Richards will be sidelined for six weeks after surgery on his knee.
The 20-year-old England international had an operation to repair damaged cartilage in his right knee on Wednesday. The absence of the powerfully-built defender is a major blow for City, who are hoping to secure a place in European competition next season. Richards will also miss England's friendly away to France in Paris on March 26.
Eriksson admitted the loss of Richards at the key stage of the season was a major blow.
"It is bad news," he said. "He was operated on yesterday in London. I spoke to the medical people before the operation and they thought six weeks and they now think the same. He will probably be away around six weeks.
With this injury, it probably does seem likely he was carrying a problem over the past few weeks and the club were perhaps hoping to get him through to the end of the season before surgery was the option.
One thing that is perhaps easy to forget is Richards in only 19 years of age and it is unrealistic to expect someone of that age (even with his physical prowess) to be able to complete the rigours of a full Premier League season, and the hope will clearly be that he will be a quick healer and the rest he will have will prove beneficial for him to get back at full capability for the crucial run in.