Sunderland defender Paul McShane is facing at least three months on the sidelines after scans revealed he will require an operation to cure his knee injury.
The Republic of Ireland international sustained the problem in the recent pre-season friendly victory over Darlington.
Steve Bruce initially feared McShane had suffered cartilage damage and, although the type of injury has not been revealed, the Black Cats boss is disappointed by news of a lengthy lay off.
McShane has missed Sunderland's training camp in the Algarve and is now preparing for surgery which could rule the 23-year-old out of action until November.
Bruce said in the Northern Echo: "This news is exactly what we didn't want and now we will be without Paul for a while."
The injury also looks set to rule McShane out of the Republic's remaining World Cup qualifiers against Cyprus, Italy and Montenegro.