(CNN) -- Arsenal have confirmed that striker Robin van Persie will be out of action for "approximately six weeks" after suffering ankle ligament damage during the Netherlands' international friendly against Italy on Saturday.
Initially it had been feared the Dutch forward -- who has scored eight goals in 15 games in all competitions this season and emerged as one of the Gunners' key figures -- could be set for a much-longer spell on the sidelines.
Van Persie, 26, will return to London later this week to continue his rehabilitation but is set to miss key clashes with Premier League leaders Chelsea at the end of the month, the trip to Liverpool on December 13 as well as the rest of the hectic Christmas schedule.
An official Arsenal club statement read: "Following the care given to van Persie by the Dutch FA, he will travel back to London this week and continue his treatment with the Arsenal medical team.
"Van Persie will be out of action for approximately six weeks."
Although van Persie could be back for what is likely to be a season-defining few weeks when Arsenal host Manchester United on January 31 before games against Chelsea and then Liverpool, the loss of the player could not have come at a worse time for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner (groin) and England forward Theo Walcott (knee) are already out until early December, so Croatian international Eduardo da Silva is likely to take van Persie's place in the Gunners side.
Van Persie suffered the injury to his right leg in the 10th minute of Saturday's goalless draw against Italy in Pescara.
He was carried off on a stretcher following a heavy challenge from Azzurri defender Giorgio Chiellini and tests showed partially torn ligaments in his right ankle.
Meanwhile, France defender Eric Abidal will miss the second leg of the World Cup playoff against the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday night due to a thigh injury.
The Barcelona full-back played the full 90 minutes of Saturday's 1-0 win in Dublin but sustained the problem in his left leg and will not be available for the return at the Stade de France.
Lyon midfielder Jeremy Toulalan has also been ruled out, as he has not yet recovered from a hamstring injury.