LONDON • Leighton Baines could miss a third of Everton's English Premier League (EPL) campaign and England's next four Euro 2016 qualifiers, after undergoing surgery on his right ankle for the second time in four months.
He is expected to be sidelined for at least three months.
The 30-year-old missed the final two games of last season owing to an operation on the same ankle, one that has been causing the left-back problems since 2012.
The aim was to ensure he was pain-free in time for the new EPL season, but he is back to square one after the ankle was damaged in training last Friday.
Besides missing most of Everton's early-season matches, Baines will also be sidelined for the Euro qualifiers against San Marino and Switzerland next month, and October's double-header against Estonia and Lithuania.
"We feel it will be the same recovery time as the last operation," confirmed Everton's manager, Roberto Martinez.
Baines' long-term absence will not change Martinez's priorities in the transfer market, with the manager seeking a new central defender, a playmaker and striker before Sept 1.
He said: "It won't affect my transfer plans because we've got Bryan Oviedo, who I consider fully fit even though he is not match-fit, and Brendan Galloway, who I am quite happy will have an important role this season."
Everton visit Southampton today, as the Saints welcome back manager Ronald Koeman, who missed last week's opener against Newcastle after undergoing Achilles tendon surgery.
Today's match marks Southampton's first home league game since they signed off in May with a 6-1 victory over Aston Villa, which was marked by Sadio Mane's 176-second hat-trick, the EPL's fastest ever.
Mane is anxious to carry on where he left off and maintain the progress he showed in scoring 10 league goals in his first season following his move from Salzburg.
The Senegalese said: "I will try and score more than last season.
In football, for the striker it is important for them to score. We started the season and I didn't score but the team drew, which is more important."
Dutchman Koeman strengthened his squad this week with the capture of Chelsea midfielder Oriel Romeu. However, he will face Everton without two other new signings, midfielder Jordy Clasie (ankle) and centre-back Steven Caulker, while goalkeeper Fraser Forster and defender Florin Gardos are long-term knee victims.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
SOUTHAMPTON V EVERTON
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