Darren Bent's hopes of playing for England in Euro 2012 are hanging in the balance after it was confirmed he will be sidelined for up to three months with ruptured ankle ligaments.
The Aston Villa striker visited a top ankle specialist in London on Monday afternoon and his worst fears were confirmed by the midlands club. It means he is unlikely to be available until the end of May, with England's first action in the European Championship on June 11.
The 28-year-old tweeted: "I'm gutted to be out for so long at such a crucial part of the season. Hopefully my recovery will be as quick as possible and thank you to everyone for your messages of support."
Bent suffered the injury during Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash at Wigan.
A Villa statement on Monday night read: "Darren Bent has undergone scans and he has seen a top ankle specialist this afternoon in London.
"He faces up to 12 weeks on the sidelines having ruptured ankle ligaments in his left foot in the game against Wigan and he is unlikely to play again this season.
"Dr Ian McGuinness and the Villa medical staff have been liaising with the England medical team about the extent of his injury.
"Darren will undergo a further examination in seven days to determine the need for an operation."
With Wayne Rooney suspended for the opening two games of the tournament, Bent was set to play a key role for his country after establishing himself as an England first choice under former boss Fabio Capello.
He was desperate to play in a major tournament for the first time after being overlooked for the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.