London - England keeper Jack Butland's stint on the sidelines will go beyond a year after being ruled out for a further three months following ankle surgery.
Butland has been on the treatment table since breaking his ankle in England’s friendly against Germany in March, with the Stoke stopper suffering two aborted comebacks.
He was forced to go under the knife in September after a setback on the eve of the new Premier League campaign, and then saw a proposed comeback fall through again earlier this month.
Butland underwent another operation last week and will spend around three months recovering, although Stoke boss Mark Hughes hopes the issue is now finally resolved.
"The story on the injury was that there were issues in the ankle in terms of the fracture, some were addressed and some weren't and some were missed,” said Hughes.
"The fracture where the bone came away was clearly fixed but there was an underlying stress fracture that wasn't showing up on scans unfortunately and that explains the pain he was feeling.
"He shouldn't get any complications now. We now feel and everybody feels comfortable that the ankle is sound and the issue within the ankle has been resolved and now he just needs the bones to heal.
“Once they do he will be fine but it's going to be a long time and it's a year out of his career.
"You can console him a little bit by saying he's a young man and he's still got a hell of a lot of his career ahead of him but it's a setback because he was playing exceptionally well and that's probably what is difficult for Jack to comprehend or deal with.
"He's clearly upset by it but his attitude is very mature, he understands that these things happen in football and you've just got to deal with it, wait for things to heal and get on with it."
Stoke City next travel to Anfield where they will face an in-form Liverpool side who will be looking to keep pace with the pace setters in the league standings.
Kick off is at 19:15.