Nottingham Forest coach Steve Cooper has confirmed that prolific striker Taiwo Awoniyi will be sidelined for months due to a groin injury that required surgery.
The news also comes as a devastating blow to the Super Eagles and their chances at the Africa Cup of Nations in January next year.
Awoniyi is a key member of the Nigeria squad and is unlikely to be fit for the continental finals.
Addressing the media ahead of Saturday's clash with Brighton and Hove Albion, Cooper expressed the team's disappointment over the setback, acknowledging Awoniyi's crucial role in the squad.
Cooper stated,”It's bad news on Taiwo, he's had to have surgery and he is going to be out for months.
“We'll support him and try to get him back as quick and as fit as he can be, but it's a really unfortunate situation and a blow for him.
“He's become an important player for us with the goals he's scored and the goals he will score for us, but he's such a good guy and a good professional who is desperate to do well, so to get an injury like this is harsh on him.”
The Nigerian forward, who has notched up four goals in 11 appearances this season, played a pivotal role in Forest's recent successes.
“We've got to support him through the process of coming back stronger. He's done that once before here and I'm sure he will give everything again like he did last time,” he continued.
“You think about how well he did when he returned last season, I'm sure that's given him a good reference point to come back to.
“We'll definitely see him again this season, but it's groin surgery so it will take a little while.”
This setback marks Awoniyi's second significant absence for the club, having missed 15 games last season due to a similar groin injury.
Despite this, Cooper remains optimistic about the striker's return, citing Awoniyi's resilience in returning from injury in the previous season.
The 26-year-old's absence comes after aggravating the groin injury during international duty with the Super Eagles, forcing him to withdraw from the Lesotho match last week.
Awoniyi's impressive contributions and historic achievements
Awoniyi, a pivotal figure since joining Forest in June 2022, has showcased his goal-scoring prowess with 14 goals in 37 Premier League appearances.
The striker's remarkable achievements include surpassing Stan Collymore's record and becoming the first player in Forest's history to score in seven consecutive Premier League matches.
Additionally, Awoniyi joins an exclusive list as only the third African player to achieve this feat, following in the footsteps of Mohamed Salah and Emmanuel Adebayor.
Forest, currently 14th in the Premier League table with 13 points, will face Brighton on Saturday without Awoniyi.
The team has shown resilience in recent matches, winning two of their last Premier League games and losing just one in their last six outings.
As they navigate this challenging period without their star striker, Forest aims to maintain their positive momentum in the upcoming fixtures.
This article was most recently revised and updated 3 months ago