Manchester United defender Jonny Evans has admitted defeat in his bid to avoid surgery on an ankle problem.
However, the Northern Ireland international is likely to delay the operation as long as possible due to a player shortage in the backline at Old Trafford.
The 22-year-old revealed that the niggle has been bothering him since last Christmas and a summer of rest had not got rid of the pain.
Central defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are currently out injured, thrusting Evans to the forefront as one of the Red Devils' first-choice replacements.
Despite making just 34 first-team appearances for the champions, Evans has emerged as an immediate back-up option to Vidic and Ferdinand.
"At some point my ankle will need surgery," he said.
"It is a problem that has been bothering me since Christmas.
"We thought it might have gone away over the summer but it is still there.
"Every now and again I catch it and it will be quite sore for a while. Then the pain dies off after a week or so."