Soccer-Napoli's Mertens ruled out for at least three weeks

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FILE PHOTO: Europa League - Group F - Napoli v Real Sociedad

(Reuters) - Napoli forward Dries Mertens will be out for at least three weeks with an ankle injury suffered during Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat at Inter Milan, the club said on Thursday.

The 33-year-old Belgium international was forced off in tears during the first half of the Serie A match at San Siro.

“Diagnostic tests have shown a first/second degree sprain to the left ankle,” read a club statement.

“His condition will be re-evaluated in three weeks. Mertens has already started his rehabilitation, which will take place in Belgium over the festive period”.

Mertens will sit out at least four Serie A matches against Lazio, Torino, Cagliari and Spezia while he recovers.

The forward, who is Napoli’s all-time top scorer, has five goals in 17 appearances in all competitions this season.

Napli are fourth in the Serie A standings, five points behind leaders AC Milan after 12 games.

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Ken Ferris)