Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale has ruptured his ankle ligaments following a challenge from Blackpool's Charlie Adam at the weekend and will miss the last three games of the campaign, but is expected to be fit for the start of pre-season.
Manager Harry Redknapp said that he did not expect Bale to play any part in the rest of season, after the winger had to be carried off in the second half of Tottenham's 1-1 draw on Saturday, and scans have confirmed his initial fear.
Redknapp said: "It looks like he has done his ankle ligaments. I don't see him playing again this season. It's badly swollen, his ankle.''
The PFA Player of the Year will wear a protective boot for the next 12 days, before starting a rehabilitation regime that should see him return to action in time for Spurs' pre-season tour to South Africa in July.
Adam's tackle has prematurely brought an end to a fantastic season for Bale and Redknapp criticised the Blackpool skipper for his late challenge at White Hart Lane. "It was a bad tackle. A few people said it was a nasty challenge," Redknapp said.
Adam defended the tackle, insisting he never meant to hurt Tottenham's star player. The Blackpool captain said: "I just saw the ball, I just tried to get it. It was never intentional, I never tried to hurt him because he's a wonderful player and at the end of the day I'd rather see these players on the pitch."
Spurs have to win all three of their remaining matches to stand any chance of qualifying for the Champions League, but Redknapp is confident that his team will be able to cope without Bale.
"It's a blow but we have been without Gareth quite a bit recently,'' Redknapp said. "He has had injuries and he hasn't really come back from those injuries to the form (he was in before). It's been difficult for him. The injuries have knocked him back.
"He has had a fantastic season. The first three-quarters of the season, he was unplayable. He was making goals and scoring goals and he won player of the year. Over the last couple of months the injury has taken its toll on him. During that time he hasn't quite been the same boy and now he has another injury that rules him out again.''
Bale will obviously miss Tuesday's match at Manchester City, a game Spurs must win to stay in the hunt for the fourth Champions League spot, and Redknapp will also be without several other key players.
Steven Pienaar could miss out with an ankle problem and Jonathan Woodgate (calf), Ledley King (groin), Wilson Palacios and Alan Hutton (both knee) are all unavailable. Jermaine Jenas is also struggling to make the trip to Eastlands after suffering a thigh injury against Blackpool.