Stoke City defender Danny Higginbotham's injury sustained during his side's 1-1 draw to Chelsea is significantly worse than expected and could keep him out through the beginning of next season. BBC radio has reported that Higgenbothim, 32, has suffered a ruptured cruciate ligament and will be out for about six months. Although the fullback has drifted in and out of Tony Pullis' first-choice team this year thanks to a series of injuries, he's still managed to chip in with a pair of goals in the league as well as the winning goal against West Ham United in the FA Cup quarter-finals to take the Potters to Wembley.
Manager Tony Pullis told the Sentinel that was he pleased with his side following the draw against Chelsea but distraught at losing one of his most trusted players:
It's a big blow because Danny had just come back into the side and was doing so well. Hopefully he will return to training by the back end of pre-season but it's hard to be precise right now.
We look after our own at this this club, so once he gets over the shock of the injury, Danny knows he will be getting the best possible care and treatment.
He's been such a great servant to the club and is so popular with the fans and with good reason.With the back end to the season we've got coming up, it's a really depressing thing to happen.
Higginbotham has been with Stoke since 2006 save for a brief spell with Sunderland, scoring fourteen goals in his two spells with the Potters and had recently signed a long-term contract extension with the club.