Hartlepool defender Michael Duckworth has been ruled out for at least a month following surgery to resolve a double hernia problem.
The 21-year-old full-back, who has been an ever-present for Pools this season after arriving from Bradford Park Avenue in August, had the operation on Tuesday.
"It's identical to the one Jordan Richards underwent recently," Pools physio Ian Gallagher told the club's official website.
"Michael will be off for the rest of the week, but we'll get him back in on Monday morning and begin his recuperation, which should see him back in training in around four to six weeks."
Pools boss Colin Cooper added: "We're going to miss him obviously because his form has been exceptional.
"Having come from training one day a week into full-time training, this injury is probably his body's way of telling him that professional football is hard.
"One thing the specialists have said to us is that Michael will come back fitter and stronger from this so we've got the operation done quickly and now he can concentrate on his recuperation."