SOFIA, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Basel's Bulgaria centre back Ivan Ivanov needs surgery and will be out for several months after damaging the cruciate ligament in his right knee during his Swiss team's friendly against Eintracht Braunschweig on Tuesday.
"It's more serious than I thought," the 25-year-old, who was named Bulgaria's Footballer of the Year in December, told local media on Thursday. "I'll undergo a surgery in the coming days and I'll miss several months."
Ivanov, capped 40 times by the Balkan country, joined the Swiss champions after helping Partizan Belgrade to the Serbian league title last season.
Ivanov's injury is a big blow to Basel coach Murat Yakin as defender Fabian Schar is also nursing a knee injury with the Swiss championship resuming on Feb. 1 after its winter break.
Basel, who play Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Europa League's round of 32 next month, top the standings with 33 points from 18 matches. (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov, editing by Justin Palmer)