Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp fears defender Jonathan Woodgate may be forced to undergo yet more surgery.
The former Middlesbrough and Real Madrid stopper has been struggling with a groin injury, although it had been hoped he would not have to undergo the knife.
However, Redknapp has not seen enough improvement from the 29-year-old recently to believe he is getting better and now wants to attempt get the problem resolved despite having the same operation last season.
With Michael Dawson and Ledley King also on the sidelines Redknapp has gone with Tom Huddlestone and Vedran Corluka at the heart of his defence while also giving young Frenchman Dorian Dervite a taste of pre-season action.
"Jonathan Woodgate is struggling and I think he may have to have an operation," conceded Redknapp.
"I think he may have to have another hernia operation. He had one at the end of last season but obviously it has not worked so he may have to go back in again.
"I don't see (Michael Dawson) or Woody being fit for the start of the season.
"We are still looking to improve the squad. If I can still get one or two in to make us strong and if we can do that then it will be good."
Redknapp has also denied reports that Hull have submitted a bid for full-back Alan Hutton and says the former Rangers man has shown good energy in pre-season.
"I have never heard from Hull that they want Alan," he continued. "He played in the first few games after I arrived injured from his injury before and he had never really recovered.
"Then he had an operation and he came back at the end of the season in good shape and he started this year in good nick.
"He showed good energy going forward (against South China) so I have no problems with Alan and have certainly not rejected any bid for him."