Everton captain Phil Neville could be sidelined for up to two months after undergoing a knee operation.
Neville, 35, was forced off the pitch after injuring his knee in the 2-1 victory over Sunderland last week and had surgery on the problem on Friday.
The former Manchester United midfielder is now expected to be out of action until next year, manager David Moyes confirmed after his side's 2-1 defeat to Reading.
"He (Neville) had an operation on his knee yesterday that could keep him out for six to eight weeks,'' he said.
"His leadership was missed but we were missing quite a lot of senior players today and you could see that by our bench. Thomas Hitzlsperger did OK, not too bad.''
Neville is likely to miss key fixtures against Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham in the coming week, with his absence a blow for an Everton side also without Darron Gibson at the moment.