Chris Clements could miss up to four months of Mansfield Town’s season after damaging medial ligaments against York City.
The central midfielder hobbled off just before half-time in Mansfield’s 2-1 victory after straining his knee ligaments.
Clements is currently on crutches and will start rehab this week ahead of an agonising battle to regain his first-team place.
Boss Paul Cox said: “He is going to be out for two months best case scenario. That is the best, the worst case is that he will be out for between three to four months.
“It is going to be a big loss for us, I really feel for the lad, he was worked very hard and has been consistent this season.
“He is a big part of the side and any time team would miss a player who has played such a key role.
“The only positive is that we have got players who are playing well in the reserves and are chomping at the bit to get into the first team.
“It is a cliche, but as one door has closed another door as opened for someone else.”
The Birmingham-born player has notched up five appearances so far this season with his creativity proving influential in the Mansfield midfield.