Brennan Dickenson’s season is as good as over after the extent of his cruciate knee ligament injury was revealed.
Carlisle United boss Paul Simpson said Dickenson is facing a lay-off of eight or nine months.
It follows the injury he suffered in training just over a week ago.
The news comes a huge blow to the 29-year-old and to Simpson.
Dickenson suffered the injury in the build-up to United’s opening game of the season.
He is now facing up to a lengthy spell on the sidelines, with the best-case scenario of eight months seeing Dickenson out until April and a nine-month absence ruling out his chances of figuring in the 2022/23 campaign.
“It’s really bad news,” said Simpson, speaking after the 1-1 draw at Dickenson’s former club Colchester United.
“He saw the surgeon on Thursday evening and he does need a reconstruction of his ACL.
“We’re waiting to see, because there is a tear in his meniscus as well, and there’ll be a decision on whether or not that needs to be repaired.
“If it does, he’s out for nine months, but if it doesn’t it means eight months, so either way he’s got a lot of work ahead of him before he’s back with us.
“As I say, we need to look after him and make sure we get him through it.”
Luckless Dickenson has become the third player to suffer a cruciate injury at Carlisle this year.
Joel Senior and Josh Dixon are also working their way back from similar injuries.
Simpson added, on former Exeter and MK Dons man Dickenson: "I imagine he’ll be going through a little bit of a tough time at the moment.
“He’s had a summer where he’s just got married and he’ll have felt like he was living in paradise, so this is a blow.
“We’re hoping the operation is going to go ahead in the next couple of weeks, because the surgeon doesn’t feel as though he needs to do any strength work as he’s in really good shape.
“Hopefully it’ll be before the end of August and that’ll then be the start of his recovery period. It is a shame because he’s had a good pre-season and the reason I wanted to keep him is that I think he can be an asset.
“He was ready to show me he deserved to start the season and the sad thing is that when you have a setback like this it opens the door for somebody else.
“He has to stay strong, do his work and we’ll certainly be there to help him along the way.”
Simpson also confirmed that teenage goalkeeper Scott Simons is facing a spell on the sidelins after shoulder surgery.
“Scott had his shoulder repaired on Friday so his recovery starts from there,” the manager added.
“He is another who needs to do what’s needed, and we have a really good group of staff who understand that people need to be looked after.
“Scott is a young lad who is determined to get over this and, with our help, he will."