Football: Basement club Crystal Palace rocked by Christian Benteke injury blow

Crystal Palace's striker Christian Benteke (2nd from left) picks up an injury during the English Premier League football match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, on Sept 23, 2017.
Crystal Palace's striker Christian Benteke (2nd from left) picks up an injury during the English Premier League football match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, on Sept 23, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

(GUARDIAN) - Crystal Palace's hopes of recovering from their abysmal start to the Premier League season have been dealt a blow with news that their record signing, Christian Benteke, is expected to miss around six weeks with the knee injury he suffered in the loss at Manchester City on Saturday.

The Belgium forward limped out of the 5-0 loss at the Etihad Stadium after 72 minutes, with Roy Hodgson confirming afterwards that he will miss the trip to Old Trafford this weekend.

Benteke was sent on Monday to see a specialist, who has confirmed that the player purchased last year from Liverpool for an initial £26 million (S$47 million) has sustained minor ligament damage and is likely to be out for more than a month.

That would also rule the 26-year-old out of the forthcoming Premier League fixtures against Chelsea, Newcastle United and West Ham United, as well as the League Cup fourth-round trip to Bristol City and Belgium's World Cup qualifiers against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Cyprus at the start of October.

Palace, who have yet to register a goal or a point from six league games, now face a major issue up front, with back-up striker Connor Wickham still weeks away from returning from his own knee injury.

Fraizer Campbell was allowed to leave Selhurst Park to rejoin a former club, Hull City, in the summer after his contract expired, while an attempt to sign Everton's Oumar Niasse fell through on transfer deadline day after Palace failed to agree personal terms with the Senegal international.

Hodgson could now turn to Mali winger Bakary Sako, who scored the winning goal in the League Cup tie against Huddersfield last month, but has not found the net in the Premier League since August 2015.

Wilfried Zaha could be another option, although the Ivory Coast forward has yet to return from his own knee ligament injury suffered on the opening weekend of the season against Huddersfield.

Hodgson admitted before the City game that Zaha has earmarked the Chelsea fixture on Oct 14 as his likely return date.

"The initial thought that by the time the international break comes around, he will be ready to join in training with the squad is still on course," said the former England manager.

"He has been out a long time and it will be nice if he's back for Chelsea, but it will have to be in agreement, if you like, with the doctors, and he will have to feel himself that he is ready. We've got a large squad to choose from, which is very positive."