Everton boss Sam Allardyce has revealed Eliaquim Mangala could be forced to spend the remainder of the season on the sidelines after suffering a "long-term" injury.
The 27-year-old joined the Toffees from Manchester City during the January transfer window in a loan deal until the end of the campaign.
However, during just his second showing for the club - the Blues' 3-1 win over Crystal Palace - the France international was able to record only 45 minutes after being forced off with that is believed to be a knee ligament issue.
Speaking to evertontv from the Merseysiders' warm weather camp in Dubai, as quoted by Sky Sports, Allardyce confirmed that Mangala's injury is as bad as initially feared and that his spell with the club would well already be over.
"The injuries this week were a blow, with Mangala in particular - that looks like it could be long-term, which is a great shame for him and for us because I think he was a very good addition to us", the 63-year-old said.
Despite the former England manager suspecting a long-term absence, the full extent of the damage is expected to be learned in the coming days.
However, despite the loss of Mangala, Allardyce is still confident his side can become a stronger unit and benefit greatly from their break in Dubai.
"We've been able to relax together and work hard together and I think it has helped bring relationships closer", he added.
"Some are already friends, and some will have made bigger friends with others and, of course, the big thing about it for us all is to get to know each other better - not just the players but the players and the staff as well."