Chile manager Reinaldo Rueda has revealed that Inter winger Alexis Sánchez could miss up to three months of action if he requires surgery on the ankle injury which he picked up on international duty.
Sánchez suffered "dislocated ankle tendons" and potential ligament damage during Chile's 0-0 draw with Colombia, and the initial fear was that he could miss a few months to recover.
Speaking at a press conference (via Football Italia), Rueda confessed that surgery could keep Sánchez out for even longer, but he will undergo tests when he returns to Inter to see whether it will be necessary.
He said: "He could end up under the knife. Inter, his club, will decide. We could lose him for two or three months. It's a shame because he had started playing again with Inter and scored two goals, while also playing in the Champions League.
"He was happy and super motivated. Now we have to wait for these decisive hours."
Regardless of the severity of the injury, this will come as a huge blow to Sánchez, who was keen to use his loan away from Manchester United to try and rebuild both his confidence and his reputation.
After struggling to break into the Inter side initially, Sánchez netted a goal on his first start for I Nerazzuri in the 3-1 win over Sampdoria, but was also shown a red card to bring the occasion to an abrupt end.
He returned to action in the Champions League, grabbing an assist against former employers Barcelona in the recent 2-1 defeat, but now that momentum looks to have come to a halt.
The 30-year-old is scheduled to spend the rest of the season away from United, who declined the opportunity to put an option to buy in the loan contract in the hope that Sánchez would prove himself away on loan.
However, this injury will certainly be concerning for the Red Devils who, like Inter, will be eager to learn the outcome of the tests on his ankle.