Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke has been ruled out for six months due to a ruptured Achilles tendon and will miss Belgium's FIFA World Cup™ campaign.
Confirmation of Benteke's setback came from his club on Thursday evening, after he underwent a scan having suffered the injury in an earlier training session. In a statement on Villa's website, manager Paul Lambert said: "It's a terrible blow both for Christian and for the club. He will miss the rest of the season, obviously, and also the World Cup. But he'll work hard because that's what he does and he'll come back for us stronger than ever next season."
Villa said in their statement: "Christian Benteke will undergo surgery after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon injury today in training. He will be out for a minimum of six months."
The powerful forward, who joined from Genk in August 2012, was Villa's leading scorer and driving force in his first season at the club. Although he has at times struggled to reproduce that form during his second term at Villa Park, the 23-year-old has remained the focal point of Lambert's attack, scoring 11 goals in the current campaign.
He was set for his first World Cup with Belgium, despite experiencing a recent goal drought at international level. Belgium will face Korea Republic, Algeria and Russia in the group stage at the World Cup finals in Brazil, having been among the top seeds following a dramatic resurgence in the country's footballing fortunes.
Benteke has provided a fresh spark in attack, along with Romelu Lukaku, while the likes of Marouane Fellaini, Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne have provided promptings from midfield, ahead of a rearguard that features Vincent Kompany and Atletico Madrid's on-loan Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
While Villa will not consider themselves safe from relegation, they look to be nearly there. With seven games of their campaign remaining, Lambert's side stand eight points clear of the bottom three.