Southend have been dealt a major blow after revealing defender Ben Coker faces up to four months out with an elbow injury.
Initial scans on Monday confirmed the 25-year-old had suffered some ligament and tendon damage and further examinations have uncovered boss Phil Brown's worst fears.
"It's very disappointing news," Brown told the official club website.
"Ben has been a key player for us. He has ripped the tendons as well as damaging the ligaments.
"He will now have to have an operation. The surgeon said he has seen very few injuries like this, especially in football."
Coker has made eight appearances for the Shrimpers so far this season, scoring one goal.