Manchester United have confirmed Phil Jones will be out for at least another six weeks after the defender underwent a knee operation.
Jones suffered a meniscus tear in training and the Red Devils expect the 20-year-old to require a rehabilitation period of between six to eight weeks.
The England international has yet to feature for United so far this term after picking up a back injury during the club's pre-season preparations.
His absence, along with several team-mates, had left United boss Sir Alex Ferguson short on defensive options, which saw Antonio Valencia and Michael Carrick start the season at the back.
However, while Jones and Chris Smalling are still on the treatment table, Ferguson's selection headache has been eased by the return to action of Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans.
Jones moved to Old Trafford from Blackburn Rovers last year and he made 41 appearances for United in all competitions during his debut season.
He also scored twice and was included in England's squad for Euro 2012, but he did not feature during the tournament as Roy Hodgson's side bowed out at the quarter-final stage.