Sunderland's worst fears have been confirmed after scans revealed that rising midfield star David Meyler sustained ruptured knee ligaments in the 1-0 weekend loss at home to Manchester United.
The 20-year-old had to be replaced eight minutes before half-time of the Stadium of Light clash and boss Steve Bruce is concerned that Meyler may not be fit for the start of next season.
He told the club's official website:"An initial scan has confirmed our medical team's first thoughts that David has ruptured ligaments in his right knee.
"He'll see a knee specialist this week when further plans will be confirmed."
Bruce had earlier commented straight after the defeat by United:"The first indications are that it is not good at all.
"It looks a nasty one. We fear that he has done his cruciate knee ligament, so that is a huge blow.
"It was only the kid's 12th appearance, but he has had such an impact for us.
"We hope that it's not too bad. He's going to have scans and X-rays over the next 24-48 hours."