Under-pressure Brisbane Roar coach Rado Vidosic won't push Besart Berisha into an early comeback, but admitted the star striker will be sidelined indefinitely with a mysterious abdominal injury.
Vidosic on Thursday ordered the Albanian international to see a specialist to get to the bottom of the ailment.
As much as Vidosic needs his leading goalscorer on deck as Brisbane fight to arrest a two-game A-League losing streak, he needs to find out what is ailing him even more.
"You can see his pain, there's no point in flogging him any more," declared Vidosic after confirming Berisha's withdrawal from Friday night's clash with Melbourne Heart.
"He's not going to Melbourne. He's going to visit some doctors in Brisbane.
"We need to get to the bottom of it."
Vidosic is hoping cortisone injections will solve Berisha's problem.
He said the 27-year-old, just one goal shy of becoming Brisbane's leading goalscorer, would still see a specialist surgeon with a hernia not ruled out.
Brisbane negotiated a similar tough stretch last season, losing a club record five games straight when German ace Thomas Broich was out for an extended period with a heel injury.
The Roar want Berisha back in time for their bumper showdown with Sydney FC and superstar Alessandro Del Piero On Friday week at Suncorp Stadium.
"He's no good. He's still having pain in his abdomen," said a mystified Vidosic, certain to feel some heat should the defending A-League champions drop to last place on the ladder.
"Nothing came up on any ultrasound or MRI, they all came back negative."
Vidosic said the injury had his star player down in the dumps.
"He feels he's letting the team down, but he's not," he said.
While Vidosic said he'd prefer Berisha to any other striker in the competition, he was confident of replacing him with a player who could give Brisbane a different look.
"I would rather have Besart any day and I still haven't made up my mind about his replacement," he said.
"Henrique can play the role, Thomas Broich, Ben Halloran, we don't want to change too much."
Another option is 20-year-old Nick Fitzgerald who is over a recent virus.
"If it's Henrique he is a little bit lighter, smaller even sharper inside the penalty box," said Vidosic.
"I'm not sure how you replace Besart but hopefully whoever comes in can give us something Besart hasn't got."
Heart coach John Aloisi said Berisha's withdrawal would hurt Brisbane.
"He's a good striker, even when he doesn't look like he's involved he seems to pop up and score a goal," he said.
"To have him out is not great for them but it is good for us."