Manchester City boss Mark Hughes admits he is 'worried' by Michael Johnson's struggle to overcome injury.
The 21-year-old has not featured for the club since September due to a long-standing pelvic problem.
And Hughes has conceded that City fear the midfielder is battling to save his footballing career.
"Michael's situation is a frustration to everybody and we have come to the point where we hope it isn't a threat to his career," said Hughes.
"We keep getting him close to fitness and then he breaks down again and, to be honest, we don't really know the exact nature of the problem.
"It's worrying. Michael's seen all the specialists and he's had more scans than anyone I know.
"We've been down a number of different routes and he still feels pain. We keep on getting close and then he'll break down again.
"He has great potential, but things really need to improve for next season.
"Michael feels pain when he makes certain movements. It's the pelvis area.
"The hip, the thighs and the back are all related and that's the area of the body where footballers get all their power from."