Southend defender Mark Phillips will be out for another least four to six weeks after undergoing hernia surgery.
The injury-hit 28-year-old has not played for the Shrimpers since August.
Phillips' absence comes as another blow to manager Paul Sturrock, who already has problems at the back with Chris Barker out with calf trouble and Bilel Mohsni and Graham Coughlan having only just returned from injuries.
Sturrock told the club's official website: "He is having surgery which is obviously a big blow for us and him. Mark has had injury problems this season which has been unfortunate as we signed a few centre-backs so we would have competition for places.
"If Phillips and Chris Barker had been fit in recent weeks it would have allowed us to give Bilel the time he probably needs to get over his injuries."