Eredivisie leaders Ajax will be without the services of their influential captain, Siem de Jong, for a few weeks, as the midfielder has been ruled out for the foreseeable future due to injury.
The 25-year-old was taken off during the latter stages of Sunday's goalless league encounter at NAC Breda after tearing his right hamstring and now faces a battle for fitness ahead of the title run-in.
As reported by ClubCall.com, de Jong was examined by medical staff on Monday morning and has been diagnosed with a tear that will definitely keep him out of the cup contest on March 27, as well as the upcoming Eredivisie match against title rivals FC Twente on March 30.
Siem, older brother to Newcastle United's Luuk de Jong, will be a huge absence for Frank de Boer's side, who will miss his leadership qualities as well as his astute eye for goal. Ajax will still be favourites to retain their Eredivisie crown, but following back-to-back draws, still have some work to do to claim a fourth consecutive title; that task unquestionably becomes more difficult due to their skipper's injury.
Likewise, the injury could cause problems for the national side as Louis van Gaal tries to prepare for this summer's FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The Netherlands coach already faces a midfield headache thanks to the injury suffered by Roma's Kevin Strootman earlier this month; the potential absence of de Jong will only make matters worse.
The 25-year-old earned five caps during 2013, scoring twice in the 3-0 victory over Indonesia and was an unused substitute in the 2-0 defeat to France on March 5. In light of Strootman's withdrawal, de Jong was almost certain to be named in van Gaal's final squad, but now his place in Brazil is in serious jeopardy as he battles to regain fitness.
However, while de Jong will have concerns about his international prospects, the player will be primarily focused on returning to action at the Amsterdam Arena. The Dutch giants are aiming to win a domestic double and will want their captain back as quickly as possible.
The Swiss-born midfielder, who is sometimes deployed as a striker, joined Ajax's youth academy in 2005. He has made over 200 first-team appearances since his 2007 debut and was promoted to club captain in 2012.
A series of hamstring injuries—this is his third—have limited de Jong to just 16 league starts this term, but the skipper has still managed to register an impressive return of seven goals.
Earlier on Monday, via its official website, Ajax confirmed that they will reassess de Jong's situation in two weeks time. Both club and player will be praying for a speedy return to action.
What impact, if any, will de Jong's absence have on the Amsterdam giants? Post your opinions below.