Back Surgery To Keep Gonzalo Higuain Out Of Real Madrid Lineup For Up To Four Months

Real Madrid's lead striker will be out for up two four months after back surgery performed Tuesday. Gonzalo Higuain had a hernia operation performed in Chicago, the prognosis likely keeping the Argentine attacker out until May. The absence will increase the role of Karim Benzema, amplify José Mourinho's calls for a true target man, but - most importantly - possibly leave Los Merengues without one of their best players for the season's second Clasico.

On April 16, Real Madrid will host Barcelona in a match that could decide this year's Primera Division. A hamstring injury kept Higuían on the bench for Real Madrid's 5-0, November loss at the Nou Camp, a result that's staked Barcelona to a two point lead in league. While Higuaín would have done little to derail Barça in November, scoring talents that have led to seven goals in 12 starts will be missed come April while leaving Los Blancos more vulnerable to losing touch before the clubs' second meeting.

Higuaín scored 27 goals in 32 league matches last season but has been slowed by leg and back injuries during the 2010-11 campaign. Tuesday's surgery will keep him out of training for two months, with the rest of the projected absence devoted to regaining match fitness. Real Madrid had originally been hoping to have Higuaín back in two months.

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