By Jorge Martin
Real Madrid defender Alvaro Arbeloa has been ruled out for at least eight weeks with an injury to his right knee and is unlikely to play again this season as a result.
The former Liverpool right-back had initially hoped to be missing for three to four weeks with the problem, but has confirmed the news is worse than expected.
Arbeloa last played in the 2-2 derby draw against Atletico Madrid on March 3 and was left out of the Spain squad to face Italy the following week.
Following a medical review of his injury on Thursday, Arbeloa told Goal: "I will be out for a minimum of eight weeks. In the end the injury has proven to be much more serious than it first looked."
The injury comes at the worst possible time for the 31-year-old, who is fighting for his future at both club and international level.
Arbeloa has started just 13 La Liga matches this season after coming under pressure from Dani Carvajal, while Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta and Atletico defender Juanfran are his selection rivals for Spain.
Madrid's league season ends in nine weeks when they play Espanyol at the Bernabeu on May 17, giving Arbeloa virtually no chance to build-up form and fitness in time to play a meaningful part in what could be a decisive fixture.
Spain have a World Cup warm-up match against Bolivia on May 29 which may be a more realistic fitness target, but his participation will depend on whether coach Vicente del Bosque is prepared to select him after his fitness-enforced absence.