Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale could miss both forthcoming Champions League ties against former employers Tottenham Hotspur following reports that his latest injury setback is likely to keep him sidelined for up to one month.
Bale has already been ruled out of Wales' crunch 2018 World Cup qualifying double-header against Georgia and the Republic of Ireland after injuring his calf in a 3-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund last week.
Though Real boss Zinedine Zidane quickly allayed fears over another lengthy lay-off by insisting that the 28-year-old was only held out of Sunday's (1 October) La Liga clash with Espanyol due to what he labelled as minor discomfort and tightness, reports emerged on Tuesday morning that Bale would not be fit to play for Wales after all.
Such speculation was later confirmed by the Football Association of Wales (FAW), who announced that their talisman was sent for another scan following discussions with Los Blancos and that the results indicated he would not be available for matches in Tbilisi and Cardiff. Barnsley striker Tom Bradshaw has been called up as a replacement by Chris Coleman.
As if missing two pivotal international matches that will decide whether or not second-place Wales hang on to secure a play-off spot in Group D as they look to make their first World Cup appearance for 60 years, Spanish publication Marca are now among those to report that Bale will be absent for up to four weeks because of a new issue discovered in the soleus muscle.
If such claims are indeed accurate, then the ex-Southampton prodigy would stand to miss Tottenham's visit to the Santiago Bernabeu on 17 October and Real's subsequent trip to Wembley Stadium three weeks later. He would also play no part in La Liga contests against Getafe, Eibar and Girona and the first of two Copa del Rey fourth-round meetings with Madrid minnows Fuenlabrada.
Bale may also face a race against time to be fit for the two-legged World Cup play-offs that are due to be played across 9-11 and 12-14 November, provided Wales hold off stiff competition from Ireland and Austria for that runners-up spot behind leaders Serbia.
This is the latest in an increasingly long line of injury disappointments for Bale, without whom Wales have not won a game since 2013. The last time they emerged victorious from an away match in which he was not involved was in Azerbaijan eight years ago.
The former reigning Welsh player of the year and current players' player of the year missed three months with an ankle injury last term and later sustained a calf problem during an El Clasico defeat to Barcelona.
Bale, continually linked with a return to English football with Manchester United, has suffered almost 20 injuries in total since his then world-record £85m ($112.5m) move from Tottenham to Real in September 2013 and his reputation among pundits and supporters has declined notably. He silenced his critics by notching an excellent goal and providing an assist against Dortmund before the injury bug struck yet again.