Hull City forward Sone Aluko has been ruled out for up to three months with a torn Achilles.
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Aluko, 24, picked up the injury during the pre-match warm-up against Sunderland on Saturday and was forced to withdraw from the Tigers squad.
Scans have since revealed that the former Rangers player has torn his left Achilles tendon, and Hull manager Steve Bruce does not expect to see him back in action until February.
“We've had some bad news; it's been confirmed that Sone has torn his Achilles and that's put a dampener on everything for us,'' he said.
“It's tragically hard luck. He broke down in the warm-up last week and it's just been confirmed he's got a tear which will keep him out until at least February.
“We await the specialists who are looking at the best way forward for him.”
Aluko saw his season ended early last term due to a similar Achilles injury, and Bruce concedes that it could well be a recurrence of the same problem this time around.
“He's had a few problems on it before but we thought we were over the situation,” he said.
“To damage yourself in a warm-up is quite ridiculous -- it's sod's law, it's a warm-up he's done dozens of times -- but there must have been a weakness there.
“It's been a little bit of an ongoing issue with Sone so whether it's all related we're not quite sure. We have to be patient now and hope we can see him in February.''
Hull do not have a like-for-like replacement in their squad and Bruce now faces a challenge to ensure his side are able to cope without Aluko for the next few months.
“Anybody who's watched Hull City over the last 18 months, especially the first six months Sone was here, will realise I wasn't talking lightly when I said he was the best player in the Championship,'' Bruce said.
“He will take some replacing but we need to find a way. Whether that means changing the system or changing the personnel we need to enable the team to function as well as it would do with him.
“Let's be fair, we've been without Sone a lot since last Christmas. He's played a few games this year but I would think only 50 or 60 percent. We'll have to adapt and get over the loss.''
Information from the Press Association was used in this report