Queensland Roar skipper Chad Gibson's season is all but over after a specialist ordered the feisty defender to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his injured knee.
Gibson will need to rely on his Roar team-mates securing an unlikely berth in the looming A-League finals series to play again this season after receiving the bad news.
The 29-year-old underwent an MRI scan but inconclusive results meant further tests were necessary to discover the full extent of the damage.
A club official said Gibson would have the surgery within the coming week but was unlikely to play again this season.
Gibson suffered the injury during the first half of Queensland's 4-2 loss to Adelaide United.
"Obviously I'm gutted," he said.
"The hardest thing to get to grips with is the fact that I won't be able to be out there with my team in the most crucial part of the season.
"I was desperate to play my part for my club and my team-mates as we go into these last few games.
"This couldn't have come at a worse time but I have to take on board the medical advice given to me."
Queensland fitness co-ordinator Tony Ganter said the MRI results left Gibson with little option but to go under the knife.
"The MRI showed nothing significant so we are able to rule out catastrophic damage to Chad's knee," he said.
"However, the results are not consistent with his symptoms and the level of pain he is experiencing, so the only way left to find out exactly what is wrong is to go in and have a look."
The loss of Gibson is a bitter pill for Roar coach Miron Bleiberg to swallow with Queensland in a desperate race to conjure an unlikely finals berth.
With five games remaining, the Roar, lagging in seventh spot, are five points behind fourth-placed Central Coast.
Veteran defender Stuart McLaren has been retained by Queensland as Gibson's replacement, with Josh McLoughan set to take over as captain for Saturday's away clash against Perth.