Morecambe left-back Michael Howard faces three months on the sidelines with a troublesome back injury.
Shrimps physio Dave Edge confirmed the bad news after Howard was forced to have a scan which showed a stress fracture that will require a long period of rest.
Edge told Morecambe's official website: "Although you can never be certain how long a player will be out, it would be fair to say that Michael is looking at next year before being ready for the first team.''
Captain Jim Bentley added: "It's a huge blow for Michael. He's been complaining of a bad back for quite a while and we hope the treatment is successful.''