Roy Hodgson has confirmed Crystal Palace playmaker Ebere Eze is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines with an Achilles injury.
The 73-year-old revealed the news ahead of their match with Arsenal, which will be his final fixture at Selhurst Park after it was announced on Tuesday the experienced manager would depart the club at the end of the campaign.
Hodgson told BT Sport: “It is devastating, devastating in particular for him because he has had such a very good season and such a good start to his Premier League career.
“He has got better and better as the weeks rolled on and he is such a good guy as well. He is such an important member of the team.
“To see that (injury) happen, in such a freak situation, it is almost impossible to understand how it happened. Then for it to be such a serious injury, we are all absolutely devastated for him.
“But he is a strong young man, a resilient young man and he will come back stronger.”
It is a hugely disappointing conclusion to a promising first campaign for the attacker since a summer move from Queens Park Rangers.
Eze has managed to thrive in south London despite his £20million price tag and produced a number of eye-catching displays.
With four goals and six assists from 29 top flight starts, he was expected to be central to the plans of the next Palace manager.
Yet with a long rehabilitation on the horizon, Hodgson’s successor could find himself without Eze for the foreseeable future.