"Damien had a scan this evening on the knee injury which forced him to come off during Saturday's match against Cyprus," manager Brian Kerr told the Football Association of Ireland's website on Sunday.
"The scan revealed cartilage damage which will certainly keep him out of Wednesday's game. He has returned to (his club) Chelsea for further assessment and treatment."
Ireland, who beat Group Four rivals Cyprus 1-0, need to defeat Switzerland to guarantee a playoff spot from the tightest section in European qualifying.
Kerr is also concerned about the fitness of Kevin Kilbane.
Everton midfielder Kilbane will be examined on Monday after he sustained a dead leg against Cyprus.
But Newcastle United full-back Stephen Carr is expected to recover from a knee injury.
Kerr said: "The situation is very clear: we need to win on Wednesday and if we win there is no doubt we will at least reach the playoffs.
"I am confident, if the players play to their full potential and with the kind of support we have had in recent games and the full backing of all those with the interest of Irish football at heart, we can achieve the required result."
Ireland are fourth on 16 points, one point behind Switzerland and France and two adrift of group leaders Israel, who have finished their campaign.