Hapless Swansea City's terrible 2016/17 campaign could be hit by another setback with confirmation that Jefferson Montero fractured a bone in his right hand during a truly abject defeat to Manchester United at the Liberty Stadium.
According to an official statement released by the club on Tuesday morning (8 November), the speedy winger, who replaced Fernando Llorente at half-time of that pitiful 3-1 loss, sustained the injury during a fall. The problem was diagnosed following an X-ray in his native Ecuador, where Montero had immediately travelled for a 2018 World Cup qualifying double-header against Uruguay and Venezuela.
Whether or not the 27-year-old is able to feature for Swansea immediately after the international break, when Bob Bradley's relegation candidates travel to Everton before matches against Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur, will be dependent upon the outcome of a visit to a specialist set to take place when he arrives back in south Wales.
"Having been excused international duty, Montero is currently flying back to Swansea to see a specialist and assess whether he is able to continue playing with a cast," the club added.
While he can be an influential performer courtesy of his searing pace and trickery in possession, the frustratingly inconsistent Montero has featured just six times for Swansea so far this term and made his only start in an EFL Cup second-round win over Peterborough United in August. Having been somewhat marginalised under Francesco Guidolin, the 27-year-old looked set to be handed a fresh chance to impress following American Bradley's appointment and that second-half outing against Manchester United was his first since recovering from a calf injury that kept him sidelined for more than a month.
"He brings something different – it's been good for me to see him in training," Bradley said of the player ahead of that potentially short-lived return. "He has the ability to make something special happen. That's always important."
Swansea were wretched in the first half against a mediocre United side, with BBC pundit and former Newcastle United stalwart Alan Shearer savagely lambasting their display as the "most abject, embarrassing 45 minutes of football that I have seen any from any football team at any level". The 2013 League Cup winners have still not won a single top-flight game since the opening day of the season and, with Bradley having taken just one point from his first four matches in charge, they are now only being kept off the foot of the table courtesy of a marginally better goal difference than David Moyes' Sunderland.