Sunderland striker Fraizer Campbell is to undergo knee surgery today which will rule him out for the bulk of next season.
The Black Cats have confirmed that the 23-year-old, who has missed all but four games of the current season with cruciate ligament damage, needs a second operation.
Manager Steve Bruce revealed his fears over Campbell last week, and they have now been realised, and with loan signing Danny Welbeck struggling with a hamstring problem, he faces heading into Saturday's crucial Barclays Premier League clash with Wigan with only one fit senior striker.
Campbell initially suffered his injury during the 1-0 victory over Manchester City on August 29, and was in line to return against the same opposition on April 3 when he twisted his knee again in training.
The club's medics had hoped he had suffered only a minor setback, but examinations revealed the full extent of the damage and that surgery was the only option.
Campbell will have his operation just 48 hours after keeper Craig Gordon headed into theatre for a procedure to address his own knee problem.
The Scotland international will be sidelined for between four and six months.
Sunderland have paid a heavy cost for injuries this season, and in particular knee problems, to the extent that Bruce has launched an inquiry into the reasons.
The likes of Titus Bramble, who is unlikely to play again before the end of the current campaign, Michael Turner, David Meyler and Welbeck have also endured lengthy lay-offs for similar reasons.
Fitness concerns in general have had a seriously detrimental effect on the club's hopes of securing a top-10 finish, and defeat at Birmingham on Saturday - their eighth in nine league games - left them sitting in 15th place in the table, just five clear of the relegation zone with as many fixtures left to play.