Omar Daley has received the bombshell verdict that he could be out until CHRISTMAS.

The winger’s knee injury against Darlington ten days ago has turned out to be far more serious than first thought.

City are now facing the grim prospect of being without the Jamaican for up to ten months.

Stuart McCall admitted: “It’s a lot, lot worse than anyone was expecting. The scan could only show so much and when the surgeon went into the knee to operate, he found the problem was much bigger.

“It’s not only the lateral ligament but the cruciate is damaged as well. It was a really bad injury and the surgeon thinks it could be eight to ten months before Omar can look to play again.

“We could be looking at Christmas, which is obviously a massive blow.”

Daley had started 29 games this season, scoring four times, including the opening goal in the recent win at Gillingham.

But he was stretchered off in the home game with Darlington after a crunching tackle with defender Neil Austin.

City expected to lose him for the rest of the season but did not imagine he would also miss a big chunk of next term as well.

McCall added: “It’s going to be very hard for Omar but he’s got to try to get his head round it. He needs to be mentally strong.

“He’s saying all the right things about coming back stronger and I’m sure he will. Omar’s going to be in a brace for a few weeks and then he can hopefully start setting himself little targets.”

Joe Colbeck has only recently returned from a three-month absence and, while Chris Brandon this week played his first reserve game since snapping his ankle in September, McCall insists he will be given time to build up properly after his lengthy lay-off. Paul McLaren also tweaked his calf in training and will miss tomorrow’s trip to Notts County.

McCall said: “We get Joe back after his spell out and Brando is slowly coming back, then this happens to Omar.

“A week ago I was struggling to name a bench because there were so many players available but unfortunately injuries are part of football.”

McCall, meanwhile, is not ruling Darlington out of the promotion fight despite losing ten points for going into administration.

He said: “It’s not nice to hear but sometimes something like that can create a siege mentality.

“It depends what the repercussions are but you’ve seen the way Rotherham responded in that situation. If Darlington can keep all the players together, they might just treat it as an ‘us against the world’ scenario.”