Boss Brendan Rodgers said Friday that Leicester defender James Justin will miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury that needs surgery.
Justin, 22, who has appeared in 31 games in all competitions this season, damaged his anterior cruciate ligament in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Brighton in the FA Cup.
“For us, it is a massive blow,” Rodgers said.
On Saturday, Leicester will host Liverpool in third place, with the reigning champions three points behind their hosts.
Justin had been walking around after the game on Wednesday, offering hope that the injury was not serious, but the damage was discovered by scans.
“He was so sturdy,” said Rodgers. “He’s the one player who has practically played almost every game since coming in, in a variety of positions, and has performed at a very, very high level.”
This season, Justin started all 23 games in the Premier League, scoring twice and adding two assists. After a long run down the left flank, he scored in a 2-0 win over Fulham on Feb. 6, catching a James Maddison pass and soothing finish on his second touch.
Rodgers said Justin was possibly gaining recognition for a roster spot in England.
The club said that Justin will be sidelined for “a long spell.” ACL operations are usually followed by recovery for six-to-12 months.
While the leaders have a game in hand, Leicester trails Manchester City by seven points. In the second position is Manchester United, two points better than the Foxes.