GASTON Ramirez could be out of action for up to six weeks, after requiring hospital treatment for a leg injury.
The club-record signing missed Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Fulham after being hurt in training last Thursday.
Ramirez sustained what manager Nigel Adkins described as a “dead leg”, which resulted in severe swelling in the player’s thigh.
The injury required the £12m attacker to spend a few days in hospital, where staff relieved the pressure in his leg.
But Saints now fear that the 21- year-old could be absent until mid- November while he continues to heal.
That would cast into doubt his availability for the club’s next four Premier League fixtures – against West Ham, Tottenham, West Brom and Swansea.
However, Saints will continue to assess the injury and are retaining hope that Ramirez can make a quicker-than-expected recovery.
The former Bologna player has already pulled out of the Uruguay squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Argentina and Bolivia.
Adkins said after the Fulham game that the injury had been “quite a serious one”.“The muscle swelled up very much because there was nowhere for the blood to go, so there was a lot of pressure on his thigh,” he said.
“He has had to have a couple of days in hospital to try and relieve the pressure, so obviously he is not going to go and join the Uruguayan team over the international break.”
Ramirez has made three appearances for Saints since completing his move to the club on transfer deadline day.
He scored his first goal for the club in the 3-1 defeat at Everton just over a week ago.
West Ham will be without Ricardo Vaz Te for their clash with Saints at Upton Park on Saturday October 20 after the forward dislocated a shoulder in the club’s 3-1 defeat against Arsenal on Saturday.
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce said: “It will be six to 12 weeks depending.
“We can't get it back so he is going to have to go to hospital to have an anaesthetic put in it to slot the shoulder back into the socket.”