Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that Manchester United skipper Nemanja Vidic will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
Vidic suffered the injury during the first-half of United's Champions League defeat to Basle on Wednesday and his agent said last night the defender had ruptured his cruciate ligament.
"Nemanja is out for the season," confirmed Ferguson this morning.
"It is bad news. He will be a loss."
Ferguson admitted he feared the worst when Vidic first went down following a tangle of legs with Marco Streller.
He hoped it was just medial ligament damage and his captain would only be missing for a couple of weeks.
Unfortunately, the worst case has now unfolded.
"I thought it was a bad one when I saw it," said Ferguson.
"He sees the specialist on Monday to map out the progress of when he has the operation. It won't be immediate because we have to let the swelling come down.
"It is a bit of a blow."
It merely adds injury to the insult of ending up in the Europa League, which Ferguson described as a "punishment" on Wednesday night.
Those comments did not go down well with UEFA president Michel Platini, who made his irritation known.
However, Ferguson has attempted to diffuse the row this morning.
"It is a good competition, a strong competition, you only have to see some of the teams that are left in it," Ferguson said.
"The point I made about it being a punishment was only in the sense of for 20 years, this club has only thought about the Champions League. We have just thought about winning that European Cup.
"The punishment is the big disappointment of not challenging for it this year, having been in three finals in the last four years.
"It was not a slight against the Europa League. It is a competition we want to win."
Ferguson confirmed the only player who missed Wednesday's trip to Switzerland that might be available for tomorrow's Premier League encounter with Wolves is striker Dimitar Berbatov, who has been struggling with an ankle injury.
The Red Devils have an opportunity to close the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City to two points ahead of the Blues' trip to Chelsea on Monday.
However, there are plenty of questions being asked of the United squad as a whole right now, which Ferguson is convinced they will answer.
"These young players have already achieved many things," said Ferguson.
"Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Danny Welbeck have all played for their country. These will be the foundation of the club in a few years' time, there is no question about that.
"These young players got a nasty experience on Wednesday but they know they have the trust of myself and their coaches. They will not be hounded because of one bad performance.
"Time will prove us right."
Meanwhile, Ferguson declared himself pleased for Wayne Rooney, who was given temporary leave of absence to present his case to UEFA at a disciplinary appeal yesterday that resulted in his three-match international suspension being reduced to two, clearing him to face hosts Ukraine at Euro 2012.
"It is no problem for me," said Ferguson, countering suggestions that he was not interested in the well-being of England's national team.
"I am pleased for Wayne Rooney and England. It does give them a better chance."