Linfield have been hit by news that Ivan Sproule is unlikely to feature in the club’s title run-in.
Sproule - who signed an 18-month deal with the Blues in January - requires surgery on a knee injury.
The former Northern Ireland star is scheduled to go under the knife on Thursday.
“I can now confirm that Ivan will need surgery on his injured knee. He will go in for his operation on Thursday,” Linfield boss David Jeffrey told the club’s official website.
“We had hoped to get Ivan through to the end of the season without him requiring surgery. However, any activity that Ivan did resulted in further swelling and pain for him.
“The medical conclusion was that it was important for Ivan to get surgery as soon as possible and our doctor has arranged this for Thursday. “While you can never say never, I think it will be highly unlikely that Ivan will be fit to return to action this season,” Jeffrey added.
“I’m pleased that this operation has been arranged so soon.”