Hearts striker Kevin Kyle has been told he may be forced to undergo another operation on his injured hip.
Kyle last month admitted that he feared for his future in football following a setback in his recovery from surgery.
The 30-year-old, who has not played since January, inflamed his hip while doing a stretching exercise during his rehabilitation.
The Scotland striker, who is in the final year of his contract, had been hoping to return to the first team in August, but his comeback looks a long way off.
Hearts manager Paulo Sergio has vowed to assist Kyle in any way he can, but recognises that it will be a tough road ahead.
Sergio said: "He went to Paris to see a specialist and people are talking about the possibility of new surgery.
"It's going to be a very hard season for him.
"I hope he's going to be strong enough to handle all those difficulties. We are here to help him.
"If we're talking about new surgery it's hard to have a clue how he can return to practice."