Key Wellington Phoenix defender Luke DeVere faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines, with a knee injury set to rule him out of action for up to 10 weeks.
The 31-year-old will undergo surgery to repair the injury sustained during the loss to the Central Coast Mariners on Sunday, further compounding the Kiwi A-League club's woes.
Coach Ufuk Talay insist DeVere will remain an integral part of his side's campaign, albeit from the stands.
"Luke is an important part of our team, not just for what he brings on the field but for his voice and mentoring of the younger players," Talay says.
"We expect the latter to continue even while he recovers from his injury.
"We wish Luke all the best with his surgery and ongoing recovery and hope to see him back on the field again later this season.”
In his second season with the club, DeVere has become the anchor of the side's defence, filling the void left by the departure of Englishman Steven Taylor.
He's started all 30 of his games for the Phoenix, who are mired one spot from the bottom of the A-League ladder with just one win from its five games to date.
On Sunday, they'll face the Western Sydney Wanderers in Wollongonga, where they'll be without suspended striker David Ball.
In other injury news, Tomer Hemed will miss the next two rounds due to a low-grade hamstring strain, while Joshua Law's availability this weekend depends on the results of an MRI scan on his troublesome ankle.