Reading boss Ruben Selles has said that the club will 'be here for anything he needs' as Dom Ballard faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Breaking his patella tendon, the 18-year-old will not feature for Reading again as he faces surgery on the knee injury suffered on Saturday at Wycombe Wanderers.
Giving the teenager his professional debut while in charge at Southampton, Selles gave Ballard 12 appearances this season, with the England Under-19 star scoring five times.
Speaking with great affection for the young forward, Selles said: "The good news, if there is anything good with that, is that there is no more damage on the knee so only the patella. He will have surgery and we are working with Southampton to prepare the next steps. He is a fantastic player and a fantastic boy. He will have a very good career and it is just a pity we can’t use him for the rest of the season because as you can see he is very important for us. We wish him a quick recovery and hopefully it can keep him in the game for the next 15 years. We will be here for anything he needs."
It will leave a loan space open for the Royals, with the club previously at their limit.