By Editor Wayne Veysey | Former Evening Standard, Press Association and Goal chief correspondent with 17 years experience of breaking big stories, including exclusives like this

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Tottenham expect Jan Vertonghen to be sidelined for at least 12 weeks with knee ligament damage, Football Insider sources understand.

Spurs announced on Tuesday morning the results of tests carried out on the defender’s knee after he was assessed by specialists at a Barcelona hospital on Monday.

As revealed by Football Insider on Monday night, the Belgium international has sprained the medial collateral ligament in his knee.

Tottenham have not revealed how long they expect the defender to be sidelined but a club source has said medics expect Vertonghen to be out for around three months.

The worst-case scenario is that the centre-back will not be able to return for four months, ruling him out of playing again for Mauricio Pochettino’s title challengers this season.

In a club statement on Twitter on Tuesday morning, Tottenham said: “Further assessment and scans have confirmed that Jan Vertonghen sustained damage to his medial collateral ligament in his knee at Palace.

“Our medical staff will continue to monitor his progress during his rehabilitation to determine when he will be ready to return to training.”

The defender limped off 74 minutes into the team’s 3-1 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday. He injured a knee when he fell awkwardly after seemingly being elbowed by Palace striker Connor Wickham

Vertonghen’s lengthy absence is a shattering blow for Spurs as they attempt to maintain their Premier League title challenge.

The 28-year-old’s partnership with countryman Toby Alderweireld has been the bedrock of Pochettino’s team this season, with the pair playing every minute of the team’s Premier League campaign until Vertonghen was substituted at Selhurst Park.

Vertonghen, who was on crutches on Monday night, is currently with the Tottenham squad in Barcelona, where they have a mid-season training camp ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round clash against Colchester.

The obvious replacement for the Belgian centre-back is Austrian defender Kevin Wimmer, who performed well as Tottenham kept a clean sheet against Leicester in the 2-0 FA Cup third round replay last week.