Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere says his ankle injury will keep him out of action for up to three months.
The England player sustained the injury in the Gunners' pre-season friendly against New York Red Bulls on 31 July.
It was only expected to rule him out for a few days, but has proved far more troublesome for the 19-year-old.
"I will be out for around 2-3 months! I am working hard in the gym to stay fit and I am gutted but I will be back stronger," Wilshere wrote on Twitter.
Wilshere's absence is a significant blow to Arsenal considering the summer departure of key midfielders Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
Like Fabregas and Nasri, Wilshere was a first-team regular for the Gunners last season and Arsenal have already lost two of their three Premier League games this term.
However, the deadline-day arrivals of Chelsea's Yossi Benayoun and Everton's Mikel Arteta should ensure Arsenal are suitably covered in that area until Wilshere's return.
Wilshere is wearing a protective boot to guard the affected right ankle, which Wenger claims was first damaged before the US pre-season trip, when the youngster was on England duty against Switzerland.
Wenger won his running battle with England Under-21 counterpart Stuart Pearce over Wilshere's selection for the summer's European Championships in Denmark, but the rest he was able to enjoy in the close season was not sufficient to cure the problem.
He will now miss crucial matches for club and country, including England's final Euro 2012 qualifying group game in Montenegro next month, and Champions League and Premier League fixtures for Arsenal.
Speaking just prior to Arsenal confirming Wilshere would need an extended break, his club colleague Theo Walcott expressed hope that Wilshere would be back soon.
Walcott said at an England press conference: "Jack's a very important player for us. It's a shame he's had this ankle problem.
"But he's a bright lad - he'll be back as soon as he can.
"We're going to miss him but he's professional enough to get on with it."
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