Livingston fear defender Tom Parkes could miss the bulk of the season.
The 30-year-old underwent knee surgery towards the end of last season but his comeback attempts have been hit by a major setback in pre-season.
Manager David Martindale said: “We got a bit of bad news on Tom Parkes. Tom Parkes is probably going to have to go and get a second op, he is potentially six to nine months away.
“It’s a killer for the club but on a personal level it’s devastating for Tom. He has worked so hard.”
Parkes has only played 11 times for Livi since joining them 12 months ago with his most recent game coming in December.
But Martindale saw enough in that injury-hit debut campaign to realise the former Bristol Rovers and Exeter player could be a major asset.
“He’s an old-school centre-half, he does what I want centre-halves to do, go and win your aerial duels and he defends his 18-yard box,” said Martindale, whose team open their cinch Premiership campaign at home to Rangers on Saturday.
“His use of the ball and his game-management is very good, and he is a talker.
“Getting boys to take leadership and ownership and talk on the park, I’m finding it a dying breed, having these on-field leaders in terms of being vocal, and Parksey is very, very vocal on the park.
“I’ve got a lot of time for Parksey, I just need him on the park, but obviously that’s not going to happen in the near future.”
Livi otherwise only have Morgan Boyes missing and Martindale has a much more settled squad than he did 12 months ago when his side opened the season with a 3-0 defeat at Ibrox.
Rangers have yet to play a competitive game while Livi qualified for the second round of the Premier Sports Cup but Martindale is not sure it is necessarily a good time to face Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team.
“I have been debating that with myself, normally Rangers have played one or two competitive games and been in Europa League qualifiers so they are up to speed,” he said.
“But if you flip that round, they have probably had a good break.
“If you look at the standard of opposition they have had over the last week, I was at the West Ham game, and then you look at Spurs, I think they are in a good place.
“I think they look fresh. They are ready for the game and there is the added incentive that they have a huge game on the Tuesday. I would imagine that starting 11 are all fighting to keep that jersey for the Champions League qualifier.
“But, again, hopefully some of those players don’t like the plastic park.”