AFC Wimbledon captain Will Nightingale will be out for three to four months after having surgery on a hip injury.
The 24-year-old centre-back has been restricted to just 10 appearances for the Dons this season.
"When they operated on it, it was worse than what they suspected," boss Glyn Hodges told the club website.
"It looks like he could be out for a sustained period, but if he's a quick healer and he gets the right work he can bounce back."
He added: "Will can come back bigger and stronger as he will have the best possible care thanks to Stuart Douglas and his medical team."
Wimbledon are 20th in the League One table, above the relegation zone on goal difference.