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Everton suffer blow as Arteta ruled out for season

Everton have suffered a major blow to their hopes of success this year after midfielder Mikel Arteta was ruled out for the rest of the season after rupturing a cruciate ligament in his right knee against Newcastle.

The Spanish playmaker was carried off on a stretcher only three minutes into the goalless draw at St James' Park and was on his way back to Merseyside even before the end of the first half.

Scans on Sunday revealed the full seriousness of the injury and the 26-year-old, who has scored seven goals this season, now faces months on the sidelines.

Incredibly Everton have managed to maintain sixth place in the Premier League in spite of a mounting injury crisis but Moyes' hopes of catching Arsenal, one place and four points above them, have been dented by the loss of Arteta.

Arteta's injury is the latest in a long line of fitness problems to affect Everton, and he becomes the second player to be ruled out for the season after Ayegbeni Yakubu ruptured an Achilles tendon at the end of November.

Forward James Vaughan has had surgery on a knee injury this campaign while defender Nuno Valente has been out with a similar problem since August.

Besides those, striker Louis Saha has been plagued by hamstring trouble which has restricted him to 14 matches this season, while midfielder Marouane Fellaini is playing with a cracked bone in his back.

Midfielders Steven Pienaar (hamstring) and Leon Osman (stomach strain) have both missed recent games while forward Victor Anichebe was injured by a horror tackle from Kevin Nolan against Newcastle, although not as badly as he could have been.

The striker told his club's official website: "I've never felt as much pain in my life. I thought I'd broken my leg.

"I couldn't even look down, to be fair. It was a terrible tackle but I don't think he really meant it, he came and said sorry. But what can you do?

"I felt so much pain. Now it's not too bad. It's not as bad as I first thought anyway, but I'm feeling a bit of pain in my knee and the back of my calf and down my shin so we'll see how it is.''

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