EVERTON midfielder Jean-Philippe Gbamin will be missing for at least another six months, after suffering an Achilles tendon injury in training.
The unlucky Ivorian was signed from Mainz for £25m last summer as a replacement for Paris Saint-Germain-bound Idrissa Gueye.
But he has featured only twice, being sidelined in August by a nasty thigh injury.
Everton kept clean sheets in both matches in which the 24-year-old featured, before subsequently struggling defensively in his absence.
Marco Silva was later sacked, and replacement Carlo Ancelotti has been unable to call upon Gbamin in his 12 games at the helm.
Hopes were raised when Gbamin recently returned to training at Finch Farm – having even participated in ball work with some of his team-mates.
He had said: “We are taking it slowly because it was a big injury. It was not easy but if I think if the games start to be played in the Premier League then I think I can play.”
And although a return to full training was thought to be close, he is now sadly back to the drawing board.
In fact, Gbamin now faces a race just to be fit before the end of 2020, with doctors fearing that it could even take as many as nine months to recover from this latest setback.
He was signed by Everton last summer, having impressed in the Bundesliga with his former employers.
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But his absence has often left the Toffees short in midfield, particularly when Andre Gomes and Fabian Delph also had spells on the sidelines.
Even central defender Mason Holgate had to be deployed in midfield at one stage.
It could be a busy summer window at Goodison as the club chase a central defender – with Jean-Clair Todibo and Gabriel Magalhaes having been mentioned.