London -Belgium's Christian Benteke will miss the World Cup after Aston Villa confirmed their star striker has suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Benteke sustained the injury in training on Thursday and is expected to be sidelined for at least six months following imminent surgery.
Villa manager Paul Lambert had been uncertain of the full extent of the problem when he attended his weekly press conference on Thursday.
But a scan revealed the severity of the damage and the likely length of Benteke's rehabilitation.
"Christian Benteke will undergo surgery after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon injury today in training," a message on Villa's official Twitter feed announced.
"He will be out for a minimum of six months."
Benteke's injury is a shattering setback for the 23-year-old, who had hoped to showcase his talents at the World Cup after a difficult season with Villa.
Lambert hopes Benteke can use his frustration to make a successful comeback next season.
"It's a terrible blow both for Christian and for the Club," Lambert said.
"He will miss the rest of the season, obviously, and also the World Cup. But he'll work hard because that's what he does and he'll come back for us stronger than ever next season."
Belgium will face South Korea, Algeria and Russia in the group stages at the World Cup in Brazil.
They were placed among the top seeds following a dramatic resurgence in the country's fortunes sparked in part by Benteke, who has become part of a vibrant attack along with Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard.
That firepower made Belgium one of the tournament's dark horses.
Manchester City's Belgian centre-back Vincent Kompany, captain of club and country, sent his support to Benteke.
Kompany wrote on Twitter: "Wishing you all the strength you need @bentekechris20 and I hope you will recover quickly! We're all with you together!"
Benteke is Villa's top scorer this term but has only 11 goals to his name after struggling to recapture the form which made him so highly praised in his debut Premier League season last year.
Lambert was reportedly unhappy with Benteke's form during a goal drought that lasted 12 games earlier this season.
But Benteke gradually worked his way back into Lambert's good books by scoring six times in his last 10 appearances, including strikes against Liverpool and Arsenal.
The former Standard Liege forward, who moved to Villa from Genk for £7 million in August 2012, had been linked with a move away from the English Premiership, but that transfer talk is likely to be put on hold until he regains full fitness.