Robin van Persie could be sidelined until late April after Arsenal FC announced that the Netherlands striker is to undergo surgery on the ankle injury he sustained earlier this month.
Van Persie was forced off 14 minutes into the Oranje's goalless draw against Italy in Pescara on 14 November with his club initially predicting a six-week lay-off because of torn ankle ligaments. A subsequent statement released on Saturday, however, ended any hopes of such a quick return. "Advice was sought from the leading ankle specialist Mr Niek van Dijk, who confirmed that more extensive damage had been suffered than was first diagnosed," read the statement. "In order to repair his ankle, Robin will undergo surgery next week in Amsterdam to reconstruct the ligaments. The club's medical team anticipate that a full recovery will take between four and five months."
Arsenal have already qualified for the UEFA Champions League knockout stages as Group H winners but Van Persie, who has scored eight goals this season, will not be at Arsène Wenger's disposal for the first knockout round which concludes on 17 March. Should the Gunners progress, the 26-year-old is also likely to be struggling for the quarter-finals on 30/31 March and 6/7 April. The semi-final first legs will be played on 20/21 April with the returns a week later.
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