Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon has been ruled out for the rest of the season with the Scotland international pencilled in for a knee operation this weekend.
The 26-year-old has seen his second season on Wearside following his £9million move from Hearts seriously disrupted by fitness problems with the latest setback ruling him out of the Black Cats' battle to stay in the Barclays Premier League.
Gordon told the club's official website: "I'm going to have it done on Saturday and hopefully that can sort out the problem as it's been a frustrating time for me. There's only three weeks of the season left so obviously that's the end of my campaign."
He added: "There'll be a period of rest and recovery and then I'll start my rehab so I'm ready for pre-season training."
Gordon's first setback this season came on the eve of the derby clash with Newcastle back in October when he suffered the ankle injury which limited him to just two appearances in a run of 26 games as Marton Fulop took over.
But his latest absence just three games into his comeback sparked suggestions he had been dropped after 49 appearances to avoid triggering a £300,000 payment to Hearts for playing 50 matches, something chairman Niall Quinn has angrily denied.