Blackburn Rovers manager Paul Ince feels like he has been dealt "a kick in the ribs" with the news key midfielder David Dunn could be out until the new year.
Dunn faces surgery on an Achilles injury sustained earlier in the season which recently failed to respond to injections.
The 28-year-old now faces up to four months on the sidelines which has come as a bitter pill for Ince to swallow.
"We gave him an injection a couple of weeks ago, hoping that would do the trick, but he's not getting there so we've no option but to put him under the knife," confirmed Ince.
"It's a massive blow to us, and especially for the lad because he has been fantastic on and off the field.
"I gave him the responsibility of being vice-captain, which he took on board and he has been bubbly since I gave him that role.
"When you think about him, he is 28 now, but three or four years ago he would have been worth £15million or £16million.
"That's the type of player we're losing. It's a kick in the ribs, but we're going to have to get on with it.
"He is obviously devastated, which I can totally understand because he has been playing well.
"He is a unique player in what he does. There are not many of his like around.
"He is a special case, and that's why it's so disappointing to lose him."
Ince has also learned Australia midfielder Vince Grella, signed for £4million from Torino last month, will be out until the middle of next month with a calf injury.
"There are things that appear to be conspiring against us," added Ince.
Centre-back Andre Ooijer at least returns for tomorrow's Barclays Premier League visit of Fulham to Ewood Park after missing last week's 4-0 home defeat to Arsenal with a hamstring injury.