Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini has undergone surgery on his latest knee injury, although manager Jose Mourinho does not expect to be without the Belgian international for the remainder of the season.
Fellaini endured two separate lengthy absences earlier this term as the result of a knee issue and managed three substitute appearances against Derby County, Stoke City and Burnley upon his latest return in January before being taken off just seven minutes after replacing Jesse Lingard in the second half of the 2-0 Premier League defeat to Tottenham Hotspur last Wednesday (31 January).
Mourinho confirmed after the match that the 30-year-old was being affected by another issue in his lateral ligament and told United's official website before Saturday's home clash with Huddersfield Town that he did not think the "the news is very good" and that the problem was affecting the same knee but not in the same location.
He added that the injury was external rather than internal and that he would probably miss a few weeks of action, but insisted that there were no anterior cruciate ligament concerns or complete ruptures of any structure in the knee.
Fellaini obviously played no part in the 2-0 defeat of struggling Huddersfield that saw Alexis Sanchez net his first goal since a high-profile January move from Arsenal and after the game Mourinho confirmed that he had undergone an operation on his external meniscus earlier on Saturday morning.
However, he was eager to point out that the recovery process would not last for the rest of the campaign and stated his belief that the player would be back in action by the end of March.
"He had surgery this morning," Mourinho was quoted as saying in his post-match press conference by manutd.com. "I don't want to be very specific. I prefer the doctor give you some information officially that we can put on our website. But it is not the end of the season. Not at all.
"It's a small intervention in his external meniscus and I want to believe that, by the end of the March, he can be back. If he is back by the end of March, I hope we have a big April and a big May and we are still to play in more than one competition."
Fellaini, who has entered the final six months of his contract at Old Trafford, rejoins long-term absentees Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the sidelines, with the former having received an ankle procedure in early November and the latter not playing since Boxing Day due to his own knee injury.
Per The Mirror, Mourinho expressed hope that the duo, who are back working on the pitch but not with the rest of the first-team squad, could be back in contention by the time United contest the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against La Liga outfit Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on 21 February.