Former Hearts and Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon has made the stark admission that his playing career may be over, as he struggles to overcome a persistent knee injury.
Gordon, 30, was British football's most expensive goalkeeper when he moved from Hearts to Sunderland for £9 million in 2007. However his time on Wearside was blighted by injury culminating in the diagnosis of knee tendinitis in 2011.
Released by the Black Cats in the summer of 2012, Gordon is now working with Scottish First Division side Dumbarton as a coach after a chance meeting with manager Ian Murray.
"It's very unlikely I will be playing again this season. In fact, I'm not sure if I'll play again, so I'm looking to get into coaching as I want to remain in the game," Gordon told the club's official website. "I'm not ruling out playing again, but I need to get things in place if the news is not good in that respect.
"I spoke to Ian when we were both together at a TV studio a few weeks ago and we discussed coming in to help out. We agreed last week for me to come in and start things at Livingston [a 3-2 away win] and it may become a regular thing. I enjoyed the game and viewing it from a coach's point of view was fascinating."
Gordon, who has 40 caps for Scotland, also confirmed his intention to one day move into management, seeing coaching as the best route to achieving his eventual goal.
"I would prefer to aim for management but you need the experience of coaching and going through the ranks," he told the Daily Record. "I'm not ruling out playing again but as it goes on, increasingly it gets harder. I've had a couple of surgeries on it, but it's definitely not back to 100 per cent yet. Hopefully I can get back to playing with a bit of pain. It's about getting to a stage where I can get what I need to out of the knee.
"That's part of the reason I wanted into coaching, you don't know when the end might come for playing. I'm certainly not ready to throw in the towel just yet but it's been a long time and I don't know where I'll be going in the future. I've enjoyed being part of the coaching team.
"As a player you focus on your own game at warm-ups and in the dressing room. It's been very interesting to take a step back and see what's involved behind the scenes."
Despite having only played two competitive games in the last two years Gordon has still courted interest, with Bristol City and Scottish Premier League champions Celtic both monitoring his situation.