Real Madrid defender Jonathan Woodgate faces a month on the sidelines after suffering a suspected muscle tear in his left thigh during his side’s 1-0 defeat at home to Arsenal.

The English centre-back sustained the injury in the opening minutes of the game at the Bernabeu as he tried to chase down the Arsenal forwards and was forced to leave the pitch after just nine minutes.

Woodgate has been plagued by minor muscular injuries ever since recovering from a serious thigh problem that kept him on the sidelines for 18 months and the latest setback will jeopardise his chances of winning an international return ahead of this year’s World Cup.

“It’s devastating for him, but I don’t think it’s a major strain, I think it’s his hamstring again,” said team-mate David Beckham. “It must be terrible for him personally.”