Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho is still coming to terms with the news that Gonzalo Higuain will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Higuain has been missing since the end of November and was expected to be out of action for three months. The club opted against surgery and as recently as last week the player said he was on course to return to action. But the club has now confirmed Higuain does need an operation and although the length of his absence was not confirmed, he will likely not play again this season.
A club statement read: "The persistence of pain and of the herniated disc moved experts to advise surgery as the next step. This decision has been accepted by the player, his family and the club. The conservative treatment has been good for the player's biomechanics.
"The work done till now will allow for an easier surgical procedure, better post-operational results and a shorter rehabilitation period. It has been agreed by all the aforementioned parties that a decision will be reached within the next 48 hours regarding the medical centre where the operation will take place and the surgeon who will perform it.''
The decision not to operate back in November has disappointed Mourinho, who feels the delay has caused the player to be out even longer.
The striker had scored seven goals in 12 La Liga games this season, but the loss of the Argentine has not been tempered by a return to form for Karim Benzema, who has only scored one league goal this term, against Espanyol in September. Mourinho has now asked permission to bring in another striker on a short-term loan until the end of the season, with Manchester City misfit Emmanuel Adebayor linked with a move to the Bernabeu.
Mourinho said earlier in the week: "Some people had spoken about a recovery without surgery. Now, he has changed his mind and he will need to undergo an operation. It is a shame because Higuain is a fantastic person and we will lose him for the remainder of the season.
"Kaka was missing from our side for six months, and we were able to create a certain squad. Now, we must create another minus Higuain. The formation must adapt to the circumstances, and we must create an equilibrium knowing that we have many matches still to play.
"Certain players will need to provide cover in roles that are not their own, with another system of playing. For me, it is a new challenge with little time to teach it. Between now and our match in Lyon [in the Champions League last 16], we will play 14 times."