Hartlepool United midfielder Luke Williams has been forced to go under the knife for the second time in a month to rectify a knee problem.
Williams has not kicked a ball for Pools since signing in August and hopes had been high the player could be back in the next fortnight.
But Matthew Bates has revealed the player’s operation to fix a knee injury picked up in only his second full training session after penning a Pools deal was unsuccessful.
And club were forced to send the player in for a second op, which Bates hopes will put an end to the former Middlesbrough man's injury woes.
"Luke saw the specialist last Friday - the procedure he had did not work," said manager Bates, who expects the player to miss FOUR more weeks with problem.
"He went under the knife again on Tuesday. He has had a staple put in there for to attach his medial to the bone. It had slipped.
"He has been in pain with it for the last few weeks and we were not sure why. But he has been back in - the staple has been taken out and something else put in.
"It is the same kind of timeline - it will be four weeks from the operation."
The injury will add further fuel to the fire amid growing fan frustration on social media with Williams.
Bates has leapt to the 25-year-old's defence.
"I don’t read social media but I have heard murmuring about Luke from fans," said Bates, ahead of this weekend's FA Cup trip Gillingham.
"All I will say is this is not Luke’s fault.
"He has come to the club fully fit then the second day of training he has had a kick.
"As you can imagine the lad is absolute devastated.
"I have been injured myself - the last thing you want is fans asking how you are. He has rang me to ask if it is OK if he doesn’t come to home games because he is embarrassed about the whole situation. That is how you feel when you are a player.
"It is horrendous. He was out there trying to make it better and he was in a lot of pain because the staple had slipped. He tried to push through but we had it scanned and we knew something wasn’t right. These things happen with surgery. We hope now we have got to the bottom of it."
Williams is back in rehabilitation at the club's Peterlee training base but will be out until at least mid-December, providing the surgery is successful.
Bates continued: "He was in again (today) for rehab then he will be four weeks. Surgery is always a risk.
"He has been unlucky with it."