Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has revealed the ankle injury suffered by Ruben Loftus-Cheek is more severe than first thought.
The on-loan Chelsea midfielder has not featured for Palace since December 28 because of the problem, but initial reports suggested he would only be out of the first-team picture for a matter of weeks.
However, Hodgson has now revealed the injury is a lot more severe than first thought and the 21-year-old could now require surgery to correct the issue.
“The injury is more severe than we originally thought it would be,” Hodgson said.
The former England boss is hopeful Loftus-Cheek will return to the first-team fold before the end of the season and he has no intention of sending him back to parent club Chelsea.
He told reporters: “I would be very disappointed, surgery or no surgery, if he’s not playing before the end of the season. We certainly want him to be and I would presume Chelsea would want him to be.
“I don’t see any particular advantage in sending him back. There are not many Loftus-Cheeks out there at the moment at Premier League clubs who are ready to come out on loan.”
Palace have been in good form despite Loftus-Cheek’s recent absence and they will be looking to extend their unbeaten run in the top flight to four matches when they take on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Hodgson’s men are priced at 6.50 to win that match, while the Gunners are available at 1.50 and the draw is on offer at 4.33.