Dundee United striker Francisco Sandaza could be out of action until Christmas after being told he requires groin surgery.
The 24-year-old Spaniard has yet to feature for United this season and must now go under the knife to repair abductor muscle damage.
Sandaza, who scored 10 SPL goals in 31 appearances last season, is expected to be out of action for up to six weeks.
Craig Levein insists the scenario could have been worse had he faced a different operation that would have sidelined him for three months.
"It's not good news that Fran is going to be sidelined for a further spell," he told the Daily Record.
"But this is the better of two possible outcomes. It was either this scenario or an operation that would have resulted in him being out for three months.
"He has never had to contend with the injury before and for that reason is pretty frustrated and a bit depressed.
"But at least we know what the problem is and can arrange the operation quickly so he can then focus on getting himself fit again."