Swansea City have confirmed that defender Kyle Bartley will be out for 12 weeks with a knee injury.
The centre-back, who only recently signed a new four-year contract, has had surgery after sustaining the injury after falling awkwardly in the 4-1 win over MK Dons.
The injury leaves Swansea with just three fit senior centre-backs in Alfie Mawson, Federico Fernandez and Mike van der Hoorn.
Manager Paul Clement said: “We were disappointed to lose Kyle. He has now had surgery and we expect him to be out for around 12 weeks,” the former Bayern Munich assistant said.
“The period of 12 weeks is an estimate, and we will have to see how Kyle responds to his rehabilitation.”
A big loss for the Swans
Just a year ago, Bartley was deemed surplus to requirements as he was sent on loan to Leeds United for the season.
However, a superb season in the EFL Championship has put Bartley back in the Swansea fold, and he even started in the 4-0 loss to Manchester United as Clement opted for a three-at-the-back system.
It’s unclear whether Clement will continue to use a similar shape onwards, after he was able to bring in forward recruitments on deadline day with Renato Sanches and Wilfried Bony, but if he did then the loss of Bartley will hurt the team.
Van der Hoorn deputised very well against Palace, but another injury to those three centre-backs would force a system change unless Clement has faith in youth.
Stephen Kingsley had been used as a centre-back in the past, but he was sold to Hull City and the club failed to sign a replacement, which means the side now looks weak at the back in terms of strength in depth.