Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves has been ruled out for the rest of the season after undergoing an operation on his right knee.
The club sent Hargreaves to the United States this month to visit Richard Steadman, the worldrenowned knee surgeon, in a bid to cure the England midfield player of the persistent tendinitis that is threatening his career.
Hargreaves has made only 25 starts since he joined United in a projected £20.2 million deal from Bayern Munich 17 months ago and has now had surgery on his right knee, with a further operation on his left knee expected in a fortnight, ruling him out for the remainder of the campaign.
Sir Alex Ferguson said on Friday that the 27-year-old had recently seen specialists in London and Sweden without being able to get the injury resolved, sparking fears his career might be in jeopardy.
''Hopefully we will get him back fit for next season,'' said Ferguson. "We have been trying to manage the situation, but we haven't been able to come up with an answer.
"Owen has been frustrated and patient, but we have never really got to the bottom of his problem. We need to speed that up now, which is why we have sent him to the best available people in order to get a general opinion about where we go from here."
Those doubts will not go away until Hargreaves has returned to action on a full-time basis.
However, in Steadman, the Calgary-born star knows he is in safe hands, even if most of his football-related work has been treating cruciate knee ligament injuries.
Hargreaves should have some company too as former United star Ruud van Nistelrooy has flown to see Steadman - the man who performed his own cruciate operation - for treatment on a knee injury that has recently surfaced.