Aston Villa have confirmed midfielder Gary Gardner will be out for the season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament.
Scans have confirmed manager Paul Lambert's worst fears, following Gardner's injury to his right knee in last Wednesday's Professional Development League under-21 game against Stoke City.
Lambert was present for the 3-0 success to cast an eye over Gardner, brother of Sunderland midfielder Craig as he looks to integrate more of the club's young talent into his first team plans.
But Gardner, 20, now faces surgery and nine months out of action after suffering his second devastating cruciate injury in less than three years.
Villa are still waiting to schedule the operation and Lambert has promised the youngster he will get the best possible rehabilitation.
"It's a blow and it's definitely a blow for the lad but he's very positive and he'll get great attention all the way through his rehab," said Lambert.
Gardner suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his left knee in December 2009, but recovered and has made 17 appearances for the Villa first team, 12 as a substitute.
He was hoping to make a bigger breakthrough this season, with Lambert ready to give the club's talented younger players more exposure at the highest level.