Sheffield Wednesday playmaker Chris Lines could miss the first three months of the season after picking up a serious groin injury.
Owls' manager Dave Jones confirmed the news following the club's final pre-season friendly at Kilmarnock.
Jones said: "Chris is facing around eight to 12 weeks out. It's not great, but it's a lot better than we thought it was on Saturday."
Lines, 26, made 41 league appearances as the Owls won promotion last season.
He joined Wednesday from Bristol Rovers last summer, but was injured during last Saturday's friendly against West Bromwich Albion.
"This is what football is all about - someone else has to fill the shirt," said Jones.
The former Wolves and Southampton boss said he was still assessing trialists Marlon Harewood, midfielders Gorka Larrea and Marek Jarolim, and Belgium international full-back Gill Swerts.