Aston Villa are hoping Wilfred Bouma will be back in contention for the start of next season.
The Dutch defender has endured a wretched 2008/09 campaign, with an ankle injury keeping him sidelined since July.
He has recently undergone keyhole surgery in an effort to bring an end to that problem, and will sit out the remainder of this season as a result.
Villa boss Martin O'Neill is optimistic, though, that the issue has finally been laid to rest and expects the full-back to regain full fitness over the summer.
"Freddy will miss the rest of the season," said O'Neill. "It's been a wretched time for him. He has gone to see the specialist who helped him with the injury originally.
"He has gone in for some keyhole surgery to remove some of the particles that have been floating around.
"Whether they've been there for a week or a few months, we're not sure. But it's causing him discomfort.
"The long and short of it is that he'll be out for the rest of the season. But he should, with a bit of luck, come roaring back during pre-season."
While Bouma remains some way off a recall for now, O'Neill is expecting to have Gabriel Agbonlahor and Nigel Reo-Coker available when Villa play host to Hull City next Monday.
"Nigel and Gabby should be fine. Gabby has trained - although he did train last week to be fair and still missed the Bolton game (on Saturday)," he said.
"It was a precaution that he didn't play at the weekend because he just felt the hamstring. But I think he will be fine for Hull.
"Nigel has come in this week and has gradually done some work. He is feeling much, much better which is good news. He should be fine too."
O'Neill is also hoping Luke Young will shake off a foot complaint in time to face the Tigers.
"Luke has been sore for quite a number of weeks - playing with pain-killing injections," he added.
"I thought the best thing to do was to give him a rest. He's been able to do that and we'll look at him again towards the end of the week.
"He definitely feels better and is seeing the benefits of missing the game against Bolton.
"But we'll see. It might be a problem that stays with him until the end of the season."