Defender Sandesh Jhingan was on Thursday ruled out of India’s Group E Fifa World Cup qualifier against Bangladesh to be played at the Saltlake Stadium here on October 15.

It was initially thought that the Kerala Blasters FC centre back, who made an impact in India’s gallant goalless draw against Qatar last month, sustained just an ankle injury during a friendly match against North East United in Guwahati on Wednesday.

But MRI tests on Thursday showed that he needs surgery as he has suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear.

This means that the defender could be out for as many as six months and will miss World Cup qualifying matches against Bangladesh (October 15), Afghanistan (November 14), Oman (November 19) and possibly even Qatar (March 26).

“Injuries have been following us. This is a big blow. If I wanted to pick one player who needs to get injured, he would be the last. He is a leader at the back,” Igor Stimac told The Times of India late on Thursday.

Jhingan’s absence will a big setback for India as it is already suffering from injury concerns to defensive midfielder Pronay Halder and Rahul Bheke, who is nursing a groin injury.

The Blue Tigers team will reach Kolkata on Sunday.