Sunderland defender George McCartney will be out of action until well into the new year after undergoing surgery on both feet.
The 27-year-old Northern Ireland international had the operation on Wedednesday morning and will be sidelined for between six and eight weeks.
McCartney, a £4.5million summer signing from West Ham, has not played since the 5-0 defeat at Chelsea on November 1, a run of seven games.
The Belfast-born player, who made 157 appearances for the Wearsiders during his first spell with the club, returned as first-choice left-back.
Danny Collins, a centre-half by trade, had previously made the position his own, while right-back Phil Bardsley has also been asked to swap wings in the recent past.
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2008, All Rights Reserved.