Star winger Lorenzo Insigne, who hobbled off in Toronto FC's season opener, is expected to miss the next three to four games after aggravating his groin injury.
The MLS club said Insigne trained all of last week but had "a setback" Friday, with a followup scan over the weekend showing aggravation of the groin.
The 31-year-old Italian has not played since Feb. 25 when he exited in the 34th minute of the season-opening 3-2 loss at D.C. United.
Insigne was running after the ball when he suddenly stopped, holding his groin area while holding up an arm to tell the Toronto bench that he had a problem. He returned briefly after treatment but soon left for good, holding his head in his hands as he sat on the bench.
Insigne was listed as questionable for the two matches since but did not dress.
After Saturday's 1-1 tie with the visiting Columbus Crew, Toronto coach Bob Bradley said Insigne was continuing to feel discomfort.
"He's still feeling something with certain actions and we want to be very careful with that,'' Bradley said.
The star winger is the highest-paid player in the league with his salary listed at US$14 million last season. He has six goals and two assists in 12 league outings since joining the team midway through last season from Italy's Napoli.
Along with fellow Italian Federico Bernardeschi, Insigne is a key cog of the Toronto attack. Bernardeschi was the fourth-highest-paid player in the league last season at US$6,256,325, although his salary like Insigne's would have pro-rated due to his late arrival.
TFC was also without the injured Adama Diomande and Ayo Akinola on the weekend. Fullback Raoul Petretta exited early with a lower body issue
Toronto (0-1-2) hosts Inter Miami (2-1-0) on Saturday. Games at San Jose (March 25), against Charlotte (April 1) and at Nashville (April 8) follow.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 14, 2023