London:Arsenal forward Robin van Persie has been ruled out for up to five months after the club said on Saturday he will need surgery on the ankle injury he sustained during international duty.
The 26-year-old Dutchman tore ankle ligaments during the Netherlands' friendly against Italy on Nov. 11 and was initially expected to return to action within six weeks.
But new tests showed that the damage was more extensive, with three ligaments ruptured in the right ankle, and he is likely to be out until the final weeks of the Premier League season.
Following reconstructive surgery next week in Amsterdam, a full recovery will take between four and five months, Arsenal said.
While his absence hampers Arsenal's bid for a first trophy in five years, Van Persie should be fit in time for the World Cup, which starts next June in South Africa.
"It is so frustrating to be out for months," Van Persie said. "I was having a super season with the team. I had never felt as strong and powerful as this year. Apart from, I think, two matches, I either scored or made goals in all the games we played this season.
"I was getting so strong, that I felt nobody could stop me anymore. That is the greatest feeling you can have as a player. It is such a pity that great run has been stopped for the time being by one kick in a friendly international match."
The news will be a big blow to manager Arsene Wenger, who will be relying on Eduardo da Silva and Carlos Vela to lead the strike force.
The team's other forward, Nicklas Bendtner, will be sidelined for about another two weeks following groin surgery earlier this month.
Eduardo has not shown a return to form in recent matches and has sustained various niggles since returning earlier this year from a broken leg. Vela has not been tested consistently at Premier League level and has himself been plagued by injury problems.
Wenger may choose to deploy Theo Walcott as a central striker, a role the England international used to play in the second tier at Southampton. But Walcott has just returned from an injury that left him sidelined since the preseason.