Injury puts Petrov out till Christmas

Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov was yesterday ruled out until at least Christmas after the midfielder injured his knee in Saturday's Premier League defeat at Sunderland.

"Unfortunately, I think we have lost Stiliyan Petrov for maybe at least two months," confirmed Villa's manager, Gérard Houllier, yesterday.

"We will see if he needs an operation or not – we will know that by the middle of the week."

The Bulgarian international picked up the injury in the first half of Saturday's 1-0 defeat, which left Villa in 10th place after nine matches.

Petrov has featured in all of Villa's league games this season and scored on the opening day of the campaign in the 3-0 win over West Ham. The 31-year-old arrived at Villa Park from Celtic in 2006 and cost £6.5m.

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