Preston North End can confirm striker Ched Evans will be unavailable for an extended period after developing a serious medical condition.
The 34-year-old forward is facing potentially life-changing consequences as a result of repeated high-force contact which he has received on a weekly basis throughout his career.
More common in American football and rugby players, the condition requires surgery to address his current symptoms and to prevent any further damage from occurring in the future.
Over the course of the past week, the club have consulted with the country’s leading specialists and are currently working together to finalise arrangements for the surgery.
Pending a successful surgery, the striker – who has scored nine goals this season – will spend an extended period of time doing rehabilitation work.
Specific time frames for a potential return will not be disclosed until the outcome of the surgery is known, but all parties remain hopeful that Ched will be back playing and scoring goals in a PNE shirt in the future.
Manager Ryan Lowe said: “We’ll be there for him every single day, whatever he needs we’ll be there for him and the family.
“It’s been tough for me, the staff and the players because it’s a bit sickening when you get that news in the blink of an eye.
“More importantly for me as the manager it’s about Ched’s health. We’ve got to step back and let him decide what he wants to do.
“He’s got a strong family behind him who will make sure he’s right. Once he’s had the surgery we’ll hopefully see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel because having the surgery doesn’t mean that’s him done.
“He’ll have to decide what he wants to do with his future and whatever he chooses to do we’ll back 100%.”