VfB Stuttgart’s hopes of moving away from the relegation zone have been dealt a massive blow with the news that attacker Martin Harnik is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after suffering a knee injury.

The Austria international was involved in a collision with SV Darmstadt 98 goalkeeper Christian Mathenia during Stuttgart’s 2-0 victory on Saturday.

It was initially thought the 28-year-old had sustained heavy bruising, but an MRI scan on Monday afternoon revealed he has suffered a partial tear of the lateral ligament in his right knee. A decision will be made in the coming days as to whether Harnik will undergo corrective surgery.