London:Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes will have a knee operation on Thursday and is expected to be out of football action for three months.
The 32-year-old first reported the injury during training prior his side's UEFA Champions League win over Dynamo Kiev last Tuesday.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed that the first scan on Friday proved inconclusive, but a second examination on Monday confirmed ligament damage, meaning Scholes will now be out of action until February.
This means the former England star, who has rejected two comeback calls from national team manager Steve McClaren, will miss a minimum of 13 English Premier League games, starting with Saturday's visit to Arsenal and the crucial Dec 16 trip to Liverpool, plus the start of United's FA Cup campaign.
However, Ferguson will be delighted to note Scholes should be back in action, and hopefully fresh, when his side resume their Champions League quest at the knockout stage February end.
The injury is a big blow for Scholes, and also for United, though the return of Owen Hargreaves for Saturday's win over Middlesbrough and the imminent return to training of Michael Carrick, who dislocated an elbow against Roma earlier this month, negate the impact slightly.
For over a decade, Scholes has been one of the mainstays of Ferguson's side and his unerring ability to produce goals at vital moments has aided many of the club's titles down the years.
He had already made an amazing comeback from career-threatening eye surgery to play a major part in last season's title triumph and while he had only scored once in 12 appearances so far this season, few were discounting him as a massive influence on the current campaign.