Rafael van der Vaart does not expect to play until after New Year after lasting just 30 minutes during Hamburg’s 2-0 defeat at Fortuna Dusseldorf on Friday night.
The Dutch international suffered a hamstring injury in the defeat to the newly promoted side and is expected to miss his team’s games against Schalke, Wolfsburg, Hoffenheim and Bayer Leverkusen before the Bundesliga’s winter break.
"It feels like a tear," the former Tottenham and Real Madrid midfielder told German magazine Kicker.
"It's not an injury with which you can play again after a few weeks. It will be difficult to play again this year. The injury hurts more than the defeat."
The 29-year-old is an idol in Hamburg after a successful first spell with the club from 2005 to 2008, before leaving to join Spanish giants Madrid.
The defeat leaves Hamburg in 10th place in the league on 17 points from 13 games, while Dusseldorf climbed up to 14th place after the victory, which was the club’s first home triumph in the German top flight for 15 years.