MADRID, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) — FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said on Saturday that he expects to be without attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho for around three months as a result of the knee injury he suffered in his side’s game at home to Eibar before the New Year.

Coutinho underwent an operation on the meniscus ligament of his left knee on Saturday.

Speaking to the press ahead of his side’s league game in Huesca on Sunday, Koeman said he didn’t expect the Brazilian to be back before the end of March.

“It’s unlucky because we have so many important players who are injured and Philippe will be about three months out,” explained the Barca coach.

Coutinho joins an injury list which includes Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto and Ansu Fati, and even though he had lost his place in the starting 11 in recent games, the injury reduces Koeman’s options to rotate his squad in an intense season.

“He (Coutinho) always has been an important player and he will be important, but now he has to recover… We are having some problems in attack and I will have to see how we can solve Philippe’s absence,” commented Koeman.

He will at least be able to welcome Leo Messi back into his starting 11 in Huesca after the Argentinean was allowed extra time in his homeland to recover from a slight ankle problem and missed the 1-1 draw at home to Eibar.

Meanwhile, Pedri will probably continue to occupy the spot of Coutinho, while Ousmane Dembele is likely to start after his goal against Eibar and Jordi Alba is available again after suspension and Sergio Busquets could replace Miralem Pjanic in central midfield.