Manchester United defender Wes Brown has been plunged into a new injury nightmare after scans revealed he has ruptured knee ligaments.
The 23-year-old, who has been plagued by injury in recent seasons, twisted his knee in the 2-1 win over Everton on Sunday and had to be stretchered off.
"Wes Brown has ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee," a statement on the club's website confirmed.
"Wes will undergo surgery shortly, and it will be into next season before he is fit."
Brown's United team-mate Nicky Butt has also been told to rest and will miss England's Euro 2004 qualifier against Slovakia with an ankle injury.
It had been thought that Brown had suffered only a minor problem.
However the injury was diagnosed on Tuesday, leaving the England international facing another lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Brown first appeared for United as an 18-year-old in 1998, made his England debut in 1999 and was handed a five-year contract by manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
But he missed the entire 1999-2000 season after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in pre-season training.
He damaged medial knee ligaments in December 2001 and was then ruled out for four months at the start of 2002 with an ankle injury.
Brown's 2002-2003 season got off to a bad start when he broke an ankle in a Champions League qualifier in August.
But he returned to action in November and played a major role as United came from behind to win the Premiership title.