Manchester United have been dealt a potentially serious injury blow, with Michael Carrick ruled out of action for around six weeks.
The Telegraph reported last night that the 'extended absence' was down to a persistent Achilles injury he has been struggling with.
"Senior figures at Old Trafford confirmed last night to the Telegraph that the player would be sidelined for at least a month and potentially as long as six weeks.
"Carrick has now been given permission by manager David Moyes to leave the country to undertake a short break before he begins his rehabilitation."
It's a personal blow to Carrick from an international perspective too, having recently gained more playing time under Roy Hodgson, pulling out of the upcoming friendlies when he may have received a chance to solidify his claim for a starting berth.
For United it will be a real challenge. With the club beating Arsenal at the weekend, and pulling themselves back into contention for the title race, the last thing they need is to lose such an important player.
It presents an opportunity for new signing Marouane Fellaini to step up, and Phil Jones to have an extended run in midfield. Against Fulham, Jones made more tackles than Carrick had in the previous four games, but nobody in the Premier League has made more interceptions per game than Carrick has this season.
His passing is also a trait United could struggle to replace over an extended period. Carrick is one of the most consistent players in the league in terms of accuracy, and while Tom Cleverley's statistics are similar this season, he is yet to prove able to dictate a game in the same way a Carrick. Again this is an opportunity to step up.
Forgotten man Anderson may also see this as a lifeline to give himself one final opportunity before the transfer window opens.
With United keen on signing Ander Herrera on deadline day too, this is likely to reinforce their aim of signing another central midfielder in January, in case Carrick were to suffer a further setback.
Here's how fans reacted via Twitter to the big news...
Apparently Carrick is out until January. #MUFC need Fletcher now more than ever.— Omar (@ThreeFourTwoOne) November 13, 2013
Even without Carrick for 6 wees we are still strong, Clervely n Jones will do just fine with support from Wazza #mufc— Innocent W.W (@FinanceTrustee) November 13, 2013
Carrick out till Christmas. Massive loss as we start finding our stride again. Step up Marouanne now could be your chance to shine #mufc— #IAMUNITED (@BusbyAces7) November 13, 2013
Carrick would be a huge loss leading into the Xmas period. Fellaini will need to step up massively #mufc— Niall Naughton (@niallnox11) November 13, 2013
Carrick could be out for aslong as 6 weeks !! Gutted hes a massive player for us #mufc— Josh MUFC McKenna (@joshmckenna7) November 13, 2013
Playing Jones at DM while Carrick is injured might have to be a MUST now and hopefully we can find a suitable partner. #MUFC— Keegan Kruger (@KeeganKruger) November 13, 2013
Carrick out until Christmas uh! The united comeback has been stalled even before it started :(— Adhithya Sethupathy (@Adhithyatr) November 13, 2013
Huge blow to lose Carrick for 6 weeks. Many say its a chance for Fellaini, but i hope we go for Jones-Cleverley.— James Sawyer (@jasaw83) November 13, 2013
Carrick is injured Welbeck is injured Fellaini has got wrist problem Why doesn't Ashley Young take away the pain of all these players!— Prateek (@Prateek_Jr) November 13, 2013
image: © marcel sigg