Manchester United's hopes of signing Everton left-back Leighton Baines in the January transfer window have been hit by the news the England international could miss up to six weeks of action with a fractured toe.
X-rays following the Merseyside derby draw with Liverpool, which saw Baines replaced after 50 minutes after a challenge with Jordan Henderson in the first half, revealed the injury which could see the 28 year old miss between 10 days and six weeks of the season, ruling him out of at least part of the Toffees' festive fixtures.
Baines will definitely miss the visit of Stoke City and trip to United in early December and must be considered a major doubt for the games against Fulham, Swansea City, Sunderland and Southampton before the New Year.
The reserve fixture against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium and FA Cup third round weekend also fall within the six-week window during which Baines could be absent.
"It has been confirmed that Leighton has got a fracture in one of the bones in his right foot, which is the phalange," manager Roberto Martinez said.
"We need to treat that now and see how it develops. It could mean anything from missing six weeks to being back in 10 days because it depends how the fracture heals.
"It is in such a specific spot and we are going to see how it [the injury] reacts."
The injury throws into doubt United making a third bid for Baines in the January transfer window despite reports this month linking the Premier League champions with a follow-up offer for ex-Wigan Athletic man.
The United hierarchy are unlikely to sanction of a move for an injured player and the club's continued pursuit of Baines likely hinges on him making a full recovery before the New Year.
United had two bids rejected for Baines in the summer but were able to sign team-mate Marouane Fellaini on deadline day.
David Moyes has made no secret of his desire to strengthen in January after only making one significant signing in the summer and after falling seven points behind leaders Arsenal.