Doncaster Rovers boss Grant McCann said Joe Wright would likely have avoided his potentially season-ending injury had he undergone surgery on his ankle last year.
Wright is facing the prospect of having played his last football of the current campaign after damaging ankle ligaments in a training ground tackle last Friday – an injury which will likely see him go under the knife.
The 23-year-old had only recently recovered from an injury to the same ankle, suffered after an awkward fall on the training ground in November.
Wright was advised he did not need surgery in that instance, but new Rovers physio John Chatfield believes the defender would have been stronger had he been operated on at the time.
“He should have really had this operation in the first place the physio has said,” McCann told the Free Press.
“They put a rope in it and tighten up the ligaments and it looks like he’ll be having that now.
“What we do know is that it'll be a lot better after the operation, a bit more stable and he'll be able to ride tackles more.
“There's nothing we can do about it.
“We're disappointed, Joe's disappointed.”
Wright made just one substitute appearance in almost four months due to his recovery from his initial injury.
But he looked set to be back available to start matches after a string of appearances for the club’s U23s.
With Wright so close to a return, McCann said the timing of his injury was horrendous.
“It's horrible for him really," McCann said.
“He's played two 90 minutes, he's played 60 minutes. He trained every single day.
“He's gutted. I spoke to him last night. He's disappointed.
“He's just signed his new contract, he was getting back and looking good.
“Obviously he was finding it difficult with the form of Anderson and Downing.
“But he was champing at the bit to play so it's a big, big blow for us.”
“Without Ian Lawlor, now Joe and other things that have happened, we've lost a big part of the defensive unit.”