Worcestershire look set to be without star all-rounder Gareth Andrew until midway through next season.
The 28-year-old has undergone a knee operation and faces a six-month battle to regain full fitness.
Director of cricket Steve Rhodes told BBC Hereford and Worcester: "It's a big blow - he's an important team member.
"Added to that, Anish Kapil, who could have come in for him, is going to be in Australia for the first month of the season with the England Under-19s."
Andrew, who took 52 wickets and scored almost 700 runs in first-class cricket last summer, played through the final games of last summer with the injury.
He ended the season as runner up in the Professional Cricketers' Association's 'most valuable player' list behind Marcus Trescothick.
Andrew was expected to go in for minor surgery but the injury proved far worse than first feared.
"The recovery that was expected didn't materialise and he had to have an operation. When the consultant went and had a look inside there was more damage than he thought," said Rhodes.
"That means Gareth will be in rehab all the way through [pre-season] and miss at least a couple of months at the start of the season."