Harry Kane is out until May and faces a desperate battle to be fully fit for the World Cup.
The Premier League’s leading scorer this season damaged ankle ligaments for the third time in 18 months on Sunday for Tottenham against Bournemouth.
And the north Londoners believe the injury is closer in seriousness to the first time he suffered the setback and missed seven weeks from September 2016, than the last one when he was out for just over three.
In a major blow for club and country, Kane’s anticipated lay-off would see him ruled out until the end of April and have just a handful of games left at the end of the season to try to regain fitness ahead of England’s World Cup campaign in Russia.
As it stands, Kane would miss Spurs' FA Cup quarter-final at Swansea on Saturday, a semi-final if they progress and four league fixtures after the international break - a potential top four decider against Chelsea and further clashes with Stoke, Manchester City and Brighton.
He also sits out England’s two friendlies this month against Holland and Italy, with manager Gareth Southgate names his squad for that double-header on Thursday.
Based on the initial diagnosis, Kane may be ready to return in time for Spurs’ final three scheduled league games — against Watford on the last day of April, West Brom and Leicester.
But, depending on their FA Cup progress and the dates fixtures get rearranged for, he could have two bonus opportunities to build up his fitness ahead of the World Cup.
Spurs have a league clash against Newcastle to reschedule, while their trip to Brighton on Friday April 20 would also get postponed if they reach the FA Cup's last four.
Kane, who first damaged an ankle against Sunderland, made a much quicker than expected recovery when he hurt ligaments in his right ankle for the second time a year ago against Millwall, and Spurs and England will hope he can do the same again.
Spurs planned to send him for a scan on the injury on Monday but that was put back as his ankle was too swollen to assess properly.
The Premier League campaign ends on May 13, with the FA Cup final six days later.
England play Nigeria and Costa Rica in pre-World Cup friendlies early in June, then kick off their group phase campaign against Tunisia on June 18 before further group matches against Panama and Belgium.