Danny Welbeck could be out for up to six months in a shattering blow to Arsenal’s attacking plans, Football Insider sources understand.

The Gunners revealed in a statement on Thursday that the striker has undergone knee surgery after failing to recover from a cartilage problem that had sidelined him since April.

Sources close to the situation have now said that Welbeck is not expected to play again for four to six months, potentially ruling him out until March.

Football Insider revealed last week that the £16million signing from Manchester United had suffered a setback and would be out for months rather than weeks.

This was confirmed by the club today as they delivered an update on Welbeck. “It had been hoped he would avoid surgery but after increasing his training workload, the injury to his cartilage did not respond as well as hoped and the decision was taken last week for him to undergo surgery by a leading specialist in the field,” read the statement. “Danny is now expected to be out for a period of months and everyone at Arsenal wishes him well.”

This comes after Arsene Wenger had publicly claimed that Welbeck was recovering well from his knee problem.

The England international’s last game was Arsenal’s goal-less draw against Chelsea on 26 April. He had hoped to return before the end of last season, and then targeted a return in pre-season, but he has suffered multiple set-backs.

The Welbeck injury prognosis is a further striker blow for Wenger after failing to land summer striker targets Karim Benzema and Edinson Cavani, and raises further questions about the manager’s failure to bolster his strikeforce during the transfer window.

Olivier Giroud’s only competition to lead the line is currently coming from Theo Walcott, who has played only a handful of matches up front during his decade at Emirates Stadium.