SOUTH China striker Marko Perinovic fears a long lay-off after an injury he picked up in the club's 2-1 defeat against Eastern on Sunday. Perinovic fears that he might have ruptured cruciate ligaments in his left knee, as initial tests suggest. He will have exploratory surgery to determine the full extent of the injury. ''I really don't know whether I ruptured my cruciate ligaments or whether it's a case of minor surgery,'' he said. ''Hopefully, I can be back in training in three weeks - but I'm fearing the worse.'' Former Instant-Dict player Perinovic, who joined South China in the summer, says: ''I injured my knee five minutes into the game but I played the whole 90 minutes. ''The knee really flared up afterwards. The doctor tried to draw out liquid from my knee but drew out blood instead and that's not a good sign. ''He thought I might have ruptured my cruciate ligaments. ''For the last couple of days I've been hobbling around and I can't do any training.'' The South China camp is worried that Perinovic may be out of the game for several months and might look for a temporary replacement for the Australian striker. ''Marko's injury does look serious and we are considering whether to look for a replacement,'' said Bruce Mok, number two to South China chief Steven Lo Kit-shing. With Perinovic definitely ruled out of the first leg of the Asian Cup-Winners' Championship clash against China's Dalian at Mongkok Stadium on October 11, South China have already nominated Dutch central defender Dennis Koffyberg to play up front as the third of three foreign players they will be allowed to use for that tie. The others are Bosnian striker Anto Grabo and Dutch winger Niels Gerestein. Mok says: ''Koffyberg is the best choice. He's a central defender but we hear that he has had a lot of experience playing up front.''