An anxious wait lies ahead for Brisbane Roar captain Matt Smith - and it has little to do with the A-League champions' ailing plight.
Smith is sweating on the second-last Roar turning around their season, however, the skipper's more immediate concern is avoiding the surgeon's knife.
After finally succumbing to a hip complaint he had been battling for five games, Smith missed last round's 2-1 home loss to Melbourne Heart and has been scratched from Saturday night's away clash against arch rivals Perth Glory.
And Smith admits if he is not passed fit by the following round's grudge match with ladder leaders Central Coast he must consider a season-ending operation.
The Roar are already feeling the pinch without their skipper, sitting just one point shy of dead-last Wellington with 10 regular season rounds left.
Their defensive stocks will be further depleted this weekend with vice-captain Shane Stefanutto suspended and a big question mark over the fitness of Socceroos defender Jade North.
"By the time the Mariners game rolls around if there is not a drastic improvement we might have to look at that (surgery)," Smith told AAP.
"But my mind set at the moment is just getting better.
"And each day it seems to be getting easier (to manage).
"If it gets to a level where I am comfortable I will certainly put my hand up for the Mariners clash."
Smith believed he was doing the right thing by initially battling on with the injury but may pay the price for his bravery next week if not passed fit.
"It was a matter of how comfortable you feel and I was happy doing what I was doing over the past five weeks but it just got to the stage where I couldn't ignore it any more," he said.
Smith kept his fingers crossed as the Roar confirmed exciting winger Nick Fitzgerald had been released "effective immediately", ensuring he can link early with the Mariners.
His departure looked to coincide with the mooted arrival of Young Socceroo midfielder Steven Lustica, who is reportedly on loan from Croatian giants Hajduk Split and may be available for the Perth clash.
However, a Roar spokesman could not confirm the move on Wednesday.