ZIMBABWE-BORN Swansea City defender Tivonge Rushesha's hopes of establishing himself as a regular at the English Championship side has been dealt a major blow after being ruled out of action for the rest of the season because of a cruciate ligament injury.
Rushesha made his senior debut for Swansea in the EFL Cup last season and is highly regarded at the Liberty Stadium.
The 18-year-old was born in Zimbabwe but moved to Britain as a youngster and has come through Swansea's academy.
"Unfortunately, Tivonge has picked up a bad knee injury in training," said Swansea boss Steve Cooper.
"He's a good young player who we like a lot and has been part of our first-team training all season.
"We're gutted because he's such a good lad, but we'll make sure we look after him and I am sure he'll look after himself."
Right-back Rushesha, a Wales Under-19 international, has not played for Swansea in 2020-21 but has featured on the bench.
"Unfortunately, it's a quite common but serious injury," Cooper added.
"But it's one that players can recover from and I'm sure he will. He's got such a good attitude. I'm sure he'll be one of the ones who recover even stronger."
Rushesha has made a big step in his fledgling football career after signing his first professional contract with English Championship side Swansea City in January.
The 18-year-old, who counts Benjani Mwaruwari and Aston Villa's Marvelous Nakamba among his role models, is a product of the club's academy and has established himself in Swansea's Under-23 side.
Although Rushesha has featured for Wales at youth level he can still be available for the Warriors when it comes to his senior national team commitments.
He is the son of a Zimbabwean medical practitioner, Webster Tongoona Rushesha, who left the country to reside in the United Kingdom, together with his family in 2003 when Tivonge was just a toddler.
The young star was drafted into the Warriors for the 2021 AFCON qualifiers against Zambia and Botswana last year but was not able to make the trip to Zimbabwe after ZIFA failed to have his passport renewed on time.