Hull City's hopes of retaining their Premier League status have been hit by the news that midfielder Jimmy Bullard will undergo surgery on a knee injury in America on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old, who only joined the Tigers from Fulham in the January transfer window in a record £5m deal for the club, has a tear in his knee cartilage.
A statement on the club's official website read: ''Jimmy Bullard will be having an arthroscopy on Wednesday to deal with a small tear in his cartilage.
''Hull City agree with Jimmy that the best man to perform this procedure is the surgeon who dealt with his knee injury while he was playing for Fulham. Jimmy will therefore be going to Denver, where the surgeon is based, for this treatment.''
The surgeon in question is the highly respected Dr Richard Steadman who has established a reputation as the go-to man for athletes suffering from knee problems.
Bullard himself was operated on by Steadman after he suffered a dislocated kneecap and cruciate knee ligament injury while playing for Fulham against Newcastle United in September 2006. The injury ruled him out for almost one-and-a-half years.
The severity of Bullard's injury is a considerable setback for Hull who had hoped that the combative midfielder could add some much needed steel - and goals - to the side which after a bright start to their debut Premier League has looked short of confidence and quality.
Hull are 12th in the Premier League table, six points above the relegation zone but have gone nine league games without a win, their last win coming against Middlesbrough on December 6.
Bullard's one and only appearance for Hull came on January 28 when he played 37 minutes as a substitute in the 2-0 defeat away to West Ham United.
It was in that game that Bullard suffered the injury after challenging Scott Parker for the ball. Co-incidentally it was in a challenge with Parker that Bullard suffered his previous knee injury in 2006.
Hull have yet to give any indication of how long they expect to be without Bullard, though the fear must be that his season is over.
There will be consternation amongst Hull fans over the injury to Bullard after the club's insistence over recent weeks that he was nearing a return to action.