Newcastle United midfielder Joey Barton faces eight weeks on the sidelines after undergoing exploratory surgery on a foot injury.
Barton has missed the Magpies' last three matches with the problem and has not featured since being substituted in the 3-1 home win over Plymouth Argyle last month.
He has now been forced to undergo an operation on the injury and is likely to miss the next two months of Newcastle's push for an immediate return to the Premier League.
Caretaker manager Chris Hughton said: "Joey had an exploratory operation yesterday, and the injury could keep him out for a good period of time.
Bitter blow"It's a bitter blow because he's a quality player.
"We know that, fully fit, Joey can have a big contribution to what we have here.
"Also, for the lad himself, with injuries it's part and parcel of the game, but it's certainly a bitter blow for any player to be out for any period of time.
"What he has to do is what he has done in the past and battle back from that one."
The former Manchester City man has made six appearances for Newcastle so far this term after enduring a troubled last campaign.
The 27-year-old had a lengthy spell out after breaking a metatarsal in January and was then suspended by the club after being sent off against Liverpool towards the end of the season.