Surrey coach Graham Ford said he would reappraise his strategy after ex-South Africa captain Graeme Smith was ruled out of playing for the county again.
Smith fractured his knee in May and, after an operation, received medical advice that he will be unable to cope with the rigours of county cricket.
The 33-year-old signed a three-year deal with Surrey in 2012.
"We'll have to get our thinking caps on and come up with a strategy to overcome his loss," Ford told BBC London 94.9.
"It's a huge disappointment to take a guy out of the dressing room who averages just under 50 in Test cricket and just under 40 in one-day international cricket.
"That's a massive blow in itself but we've also lost the knowledge and experience he brings and, of course, his leadership qualities.
|Graeme Smith's South Africa record|
|117 Tests, making 9,265 runs at an average of 48.25|
|197 ODIs, making 6,989 runs at an average of 37.98|
|33 T20 internationals, making 982 at an average of 31.67|
"They were all really important to our rebuilding process.
"Unfortunately, his body was sending out a number of messages and I think it's a decision he had to make."
Smith, 33, retired from international cricket in March after 117 Test appearances, but played only three first-class games for Surrey last season because of an ankle injury, going on to make five more appearances in the four-day game this season.
"County cricket is very busy and hectic and he's had a number of injury issues," continued Ford.
"He's got to the stage where his body's just saying it can't keep going at this intensity.
"Possibly, he could play bits of cricket here and there but to play a whole county season is just too much."
Wicketkeeper and batsman Gary Wilson has captained Surrey in Smith's absence and Ford praised the Northern Irishman's contribution.
Ford said: "This has all happened very quickly but what's been very pleasing is that Gary and his senior lieutenants have really made a good little leadership group and they have made a real difference to the performances.
"They'll continue in their good work but we'll have to think about options for next year in leadership and our overseas players."