Two Belgian surgeons have identified a knee ligament which they think could revolutionise the treatment of Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries like the one suffered by Theo Walcott.
Walcott has been ruled out for six months after he was injured in Arsenal's FA Cup win over Tottenham at the weekend and is now set to miss the World Cup.
But Professor Johan Bellmans has offered Walcott a glimmer of hope of making an early return by suggesting recovery periods are so long because some patients suffer further damage which medical professionals were previously unaware of.
"When somebody tears his ACL then undergoes surgery we know 10%-20% of patients continue to have some form of instability," he told Sky Sports News.
"That is illogical because we have fixed what's broken so therefore we were convinced there had to be another structure which was also damaged but which remained unrepaired so far."
Dr Steven Claes added: "The human ACL is located deep in the centre of the knee but the ligament we have described is running at the lateral side of the knee.
"While the ACL is controlling stability from front-to-back, this ligament is controlling the rotation of the knee.
"What we've noticed in many ACL-injured subjects is that both ligaments seem to be disrupted and so you can expect if you only treat one of these injuries, some laxity, some instability, particularly rotational laxity will persist."
Several other Premier League players are currently sidelined with the same injury - Walcott's Arsenal team-mate Abou Diaby is not expected back until March whilst Aston Villa's Jores Okore and Chelsea's Marco van Ginkel are both out until June
Crystal Palace's Glenn Murray returns later this month but Everton's Darron Gibson is another long term absentee as is Liverpool defender Sebastian Coates and Newcastle's Ryan Taylor.