Hartlepool United defender Neil Austin has been ruled out for the rest of the season with his troublesome toe injury.
The 30-year-old, who has been absent since he sustained the injury against Scunthorpe in February, requires an operation and will not play again this term.
Pools boss Colin Cooper told the club's official website: "I said at the time that I would never belittle an injury and after this period of time when it hasn't settled down the specialist has said he needs to have the surgery.
"We've gone down every avenue to try and help Neil but now the specialist has told us that the only alternative is to have the operation.
"It's a blow for us but Neil is a top professional and knows the score so I'm sure he just wants to get back to fitness as soon as possible."