Eduardo da Silva could have lost his left foot had medical staff not been so prompt in treating his horrific leg break, according to a specialist.
The Arsenal striker is recovering from emergency surgery after a sickening tackle from Birmingham defender Martin Taylor in Saturday's Barclays Premier League match at St Andrews.
Osteopath and physiotherapist Tim Allardyce revealed that any delay in attending to such an injury would likely result in amputation.
He said on BBC Radio Five Live: 'You can lose the foot, simple as. Once the foot dislocates like that, it can badly damage the blood vessels and it's very, very serious.
'The foot needs to be relocated immediately or almost immediately to save it and emergency surgery is completely necessary.'
Allardyce warned Croatia international Eduardo he faces a long road back to fitness and fears he may never fully recover.
'Imagine your worst ankle sprain and make it about 10 times worse and you're getting close to where Eduardo is,' Allardyce said.
'He could be out for several months. We'd expect a normal person to be out for about six months.
'With the level of fitness he'll need to get back to, it could be anywhere around the nine months mark.'
He added: 'Potentially, the bones will heal but there's all the other damage around the area, such as the ligament damage, the tendon damage, the soft tissue damage, the damage to the joint capsule.
'He's going to have to do an awful lot of work to regain full mobility and strength to the ankle to get him up to the standard of playing international football. Whether he can do that or not, I'm not sure.'
Even if Eduardo makes a complete physical recovery, Allardyce is also concerned about any lasting psychological trauma.
'Once you've sustained such a serious injury, you'll always tend to be aware of it before you regain full strength and confidence,' he said.
'It will have a big psychological effect, certainly for the next year, maybe for several months after that.'