Leroy Lita could have played his last game of the season, with a hamstring injury having laid him low.
The Middlesbrough striker sustained the problem during a recent outing against Portsmouth, and the outlook appears bleak.
Medical staff have suggested that the 26-year-old will be sidelined until at least April, possibly even longer.
Scans have shown that Lita has suffered a severe tear and that means he is likely to be sidelined for a prolonged period of time.
Boro coach Mark Proctor admits the club are preparing for the worst, with there a possibility that one of their top marksmen will be unavailable for the remainder of their Championship survival bid.
"Hamstring injuries are graded, and unfortunately Leroy has suffered the highest grade tear," he said.
"You can't say for definite but it's possible he won't play again this season. Obviously it's a blow for Leroy. He had been going very well and scoring goals.
"But injuries are part and parcel of the game and, when one player gets injured, it gives an opportunity to somebody else to step in."