Hartlepool have suffered a major injury blow with the news that Carl Magnay is set for a minimum of six months on the sidelines.
Pools boss Craig Hignett had hoped the injury which forced Magnay off during the first half of Saturday's goalless draw against Mansfield was not as serious as first feared.
But his worst fears were confirmed when scans showed the defender ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament, an injury he has previously suffered on his other knee.
Magnay, who has played all but one of Pools' league games this season, will undergo corrective surgery once the swelling reduces.
"It's a massive setback for us because he's a big part of the squad," Hignett told the club's official website.
"To lose him for such a length of time is terrible news and I am devastated for him but I have no doubt that he will come back stronger.
"He has had a serious injury like this before so he will know what is in front of him but he's mentally strong and we'll ensure he's got the best medical support around him to aid his recovery."