Richards first injured his ankle on a pre-season tour of North America
Port Vale have been dealt another injury blow with the news that captain Marc Richards requires ankle surgery.
The 29-year-old will continue to play through the pain barrier, but will be ruled out for the season when he eventually has the operation.
Boss Micky Adams told
BBC Radio Stoke
: "We're managing it as best we can.
"He's not doing any work until the Thursday or Friday before we play, but I think you can see that he's not moving freely like he should do."
Richards first suffered the injury during pre-season and has resulted in numerous spells out of the side for the former Barnsley striker this season.
He has scored nine times in 17 appearances for the Valiants in 2011-12.
"We never really got to the bottom of it in pre-season and it looked a nasty injury in America," added Adams.
"All season, it's been stop-start for him, and the specialist has advised surgery.
"He's our main goal threat and has been for a number of years now, so if we were to miss that, it would be a problem for us.
"He doesn't want to have the surgery but that's the route that's more likely at the moment."
Meanwhile, defender Gareth Owen has been ruled out of the trip Rotherham on Saturday after breaking his hand.
Owen was hurt in a freak incident in a training session early in the week.
BBC Radio Stoke
: "I can play when pain allows and at the moment it's a little bit too sore.
"I went to win the ball and a few of us fell on each other. I heard a crack and the pain went through my wrist.
"I have to be in a removable cast for the next six weeks and that hopefully should enable me to play."