MADRID (Reuters) -- Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain will be out of action for up to four months after having surgery on a hernia in his back, the doctor in charge of the operation told reporters on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old Argentina international flew to Chicago in the United States to resolve a problem that has kept him off the playing fields since the beginning of December.
"The operation went very well," Doctor Richard G.Fessler said. "The recovery period is four months but to be get back to 100 percent after any operation takes a year.
"Higuain will stay in Chicago for a week for his back to be monitored. He will be able to walk immediately, stretch in a week, and to start to run in two or three.
"He will train in two months but he will not play for three or four months."
That news will be a blow to Real, who had hoped to have him back within two months, as it leaves them with one recognised centre forward in Karim Benzema moving into the crunch time of the season.
The French international has struggled to shine in Higuain's absence and even though Kaka has just returned to action after five months out following knee surgery, and Cristiano Ronaldo is in fine form, Real may decide to dip into the transfer market.
Jose Mourinho's side are still alive in three competitions, two points behind leaders Barcelona in La Liga, in the quarter-finals of the King's Cup and they resume in the Champions League last 16 against Olympique Lyon next month.