Kieran Lee has been ruled out for the rest of the season after the Sheffield Wednesday midfielder underwent surgery on his hip.
The 28-year-old has been an integral part of Wednesday’s midfield under Carlos Carvalhal, netting four times this campaign.
But the former Manchester United youngster has struggled recently with a hip injury, and went under the surgeon’s knife this week.
Now it’s unlikely the midfielder will appear again before the summer.
"Probably all season but we don't know,” said Carvalhal. “It is a bad expectation.
"It is not a new situation with Kieran Lee. He did the surgery this week as he was a player who was not playing at 100 per cent. He was at the limit.
"He's a fantastic pro and he played his best to the end. He's a nice guy and a fantastic player and we hope he recovers as soon as possible but we don't want to put any pressure on him.
“We know he will probably not play (again) this season or he comes to play in the last games of the season with good expectations.
"But even when we play without him, we are winning games.
“I remember we put in one our best performances of the season against Newcastle and he didn't play so we are more than one player. But of course we need all the players and Kieran is one of our best players.”
Lee’s absence could mean Wednesday move for a new midfielder in the January transfer window.
Carvalhal - who have also been linked with Charlton left-back Morgan Fox - said: "Let's see. It's a possibility. When we have had a problem in the past, like (Will) Buckley for example, we brought in Callum (McManaman) to cover the situation. It is possible we will try to cover the position.
"Kieran is a special player. He's a midfielder that breaks the lines who helps the defence and supports the attack also.
“He's a specific player so it is not easy to bring in a player with these abilities but we are, of course, open our eyes to see if we can achieve a player with similar abilities.”