Aston Villa have been rocked by the news that Marc Albrighton has been ruled out of action for three weeks with appendicitis.
The midfielder, who has been in impressive form for the West Midlands' giants, is now expected to miss Premier League games against Arsenal, Liverpool and West Brom.
He will also miss next week's hugely anticipated Carling Cup quarter-final against second city rivals Birmingham at St Andrews.
Albrighton, who celebrated his 21st birthday last Thursday, pulled out of Villa's squad ahead of Sunday's 2-0 defeat at Blackburn after falling ill at the team's Lancashire hotel on Saturday evening.
The news comes as a bitter blow to manager Gerard Houllier who is now without 12 first team players including John Carew, Emile Heskey, Steve Sidwell and Stiliyan Petrov.
Albrighton, who recently signed a new contract keeping him at Villa Park until 2014 has scored three Premier League goals for the club this season.