Damien Duff has been ruled out of the Republic of Ireland's two World Cup qualifiers with Bulgaria and Italy.
The Newcastle winger has returned to Tyneside after picking up a hamstring injury in training on Thursday.
The injury is a major blow for Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni as he prepares for the two crucial games with Bulgaria and Italy.
Trapattoni is also sweating over the fitness of Celtic winger Aiden McGeady ahead of Saturday's Croke Park meeting with Bulgaria.
Newcastle will be hoping the injury to Duff is not too serious as they will be keen to have the winger available for their battle against relegation.
Republic assistant boss Liam Brady admitted Duff was down at being forced out of the squad.
"He was very down. He has had a season of disappointments as regards injuries this year and the lad was very down," said Brady.
"But I was there when the manager spoke to him and the manager said this campaign is not yet halfway through and it's going to be a long road and we are going to need him.
"We just want to get him back fit and have him ready for the next game against Bulgaria on June 6.
"Damien went away knowing that Giovanni is really counting on him, so I think that picked him up a bit. But he was obviously very disappointed."
Reading midfielder Stephen Hunt is set to take Duff's place in the side for the two games.
Brady said: "I suppose the next question is who is going to play instead of Damien, and it's going to be Stephen Hunt.
"He has already played a big part in the campaign so far - he played against Georgia, he played against Montenegro and he has come on in all the other games, so he is well ready and well able for it.
"Damien has been in great form for us, but that's the nature of the game.
"Bulgaria have got their problems as well with players dropping out through injury. These things happen.
"But we are confident enough we are able to cope, and we have great faith in Stephen Hunt."
Brady also revealed goalkeeper Shay Given and Celtic winger Aiden McGeady should both be fit for the double-header.
Given trained with the rest of the squad on Thursday afternoon after shaking off a shoulder problem, while McGeady did not join in with the group as he nursed a badly bruised foot.
"Shay did the full training session. Everything was okay, Shay is fine," noted Brady.
"Aiden has done some light training today. He has a very bruised foot and we kept him out of contact, such as tackling and kicking the ball.
"But he has done some light training and he is feeling good and he is feeling confident as well that he is going to be fit to play.
"But we will know much more tomorrow on that."