Hartlepool United wil miss Carl Magnay on and off the park says Craig Harrison.
But the Pools boss says his absence while he recovers from double hernia surgery will present an opportunity for another player to claim the right-back spot.
Kenton Richardson will be the player who has first crack at the position when he lines up at Morecambe today in the FA Cup first round tie.
Magnay, and Pools, were forced to admit defeat to the problem which has been troubling him for the last month.
The 28-year-old missed the 2-0 victory at Torquay, where Liam Donnelly, Michael Ledger and Richardson all had stints at right-back.
And the former Chelsea defender went under the knife on Tuesday and returned to Pools’ training HQ yesterday.
“Mags is the club captain and he will be missed on and off the pitch,” said Harrison.
“But it’s something I’ve always said that it presents an opportunity for another player to come in and stake a claim.
“If that player does that then Carl has a job to get back into the team.
“That’s the way it is whether you are the club captain or an 18/19 year old kid.
“In my view it’s the way it should be – you have to get picked on merit.
“Whoever comes in I’m sure will look to make Carl’s job hard to get back in the team.
“But Mags is a hard worker, he’ll graft to get back.”
Magnay is indeed a grafter, as proven last year when he made a quicker-than-expected recovery from knee surgery which had threatened to end his season.
Harrison will certainly hope to get him back for the packed festive programme, when Pools have four matches in nine days.
“He had his op on Tuesday night,” said the manager.
“Everything went fine, it was a straight forward process.
“It was a double hernia, so we are probably looking at three to five weeks depending on how the rehabilitation goes.
“He’s be back in now to begin his journey to get fit again.
“It’s good for us that it’s been done, he’s not been 100% for a few weeks now.
“I’d imagine it’s a relief for him that all is done and dusted.
“All is fine and there are no complications so he can come back, get fit and fight to get back in the team in three, four or five weeks.”