Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley has confirmed that Trevor Clarke suffered a cruciate ligament injury to his left knee in last week's defeat at Waterford.
And though such an injury usually has a post-operative rehab of between six to nine months, Bradley hinted that his influential winger might yet see a return to action before the end of the season.
“At the moment it looks as good as it can be in terms of a cruciate,” said Bradley of Clarke, who turned 20 this week.
“It’s a straight cruciate, there is nothing around the knee, no other little niggles, so it should be a quick turnaround.
“If the surgery and the rehab goes well, there is a very good chance he could get back this year, but we won’t know that until they operate.”
Bradley, who serves a touchline ban, is also without central defender Ally Gilchrist through suspension for the visit of Sligo Rovers to Tallaght Stadium on Friday night.
The versatile Sean Kavanagh returns from a one-match suspension while left back Luke Byrne, who replaced Clarke before then going off injured himself at the RSC, is back fit.
Injury and suspension free, Sligo travel hoping to eradicate what manager Gerard Lyttle called 'very basic mistakes in crucial areas' that cost them a 2-0 home defeat to Dundalk last week.
“It’s a mental thing for the mistakes we are making,” said Lyttle. “We’ve done our homework on them. We know it’ll be difficult, but in our team we have pace, we have goalscorers, we’ll create chances.
“I think the big pitch, and a good one, will suit us. We’ve to improve on our concentration levels and take the goalscoring opportunities that we make. I believe we can do so and come away with a result.”
League leaders Cork City travel to the Carlisle Grounds to take on bottom side Bray Wanderers with manager John Caulfield cautious of the challenge his champions face.
"Bray is always a dangerous venue, always a venue where results are really tight," said Caulfield, whose only injury absentee is John Dunleavy.
"Maybe their squad isn't as strong as it was, but they've the likes of Aaron Greene and Gary McCabe, who are two of the best players in the league."
Yet to win and six points adrift at the foot of the table, Bray welcome right-back Daniel McKenna back from international duty, though remain without injured defender Darragh Gibbons. Left-back Kevin Lynch, midfielder Paul O'Conor and winger Cory Galvin face fitness assessments.
Friday’s fixtures (7.45 unless stated)
Bray Wanderers v Cork City
Derry City v St Patrick's Athletic (Live on RTÉ2, 7.30)
Dundalk v Bohemians
Limerick v Waterford
Shamrock Rovers v Sligo Roves (8.0)
Athlone Town v Finn Harps
Cabinteely v Drogheda United
Cobh Ramblers v UCD
Galway United v Longford Town
Wexford v Shelbourne (8.0)