PETER Leven will have knee surgery today which will rule the Oxford United star out until the final month of the season.
Scans were taken yesterday and the specialist advised an operation was the only realistic option for the midfielder’s right knee.
The keyhole procedure, known as an arthroscopy, is due to take place at the Cromwell Hospital in west London.
It takes eight weeks to recover fully, which would keep Leven on the sidelines until early April – when the U’s will have only a handful of league games left.
Often players can return to fitness faster than expected, but U’s physio Andy Lord explained it was unlikely with this type of injury.
He said: “The doctors don’t like people coming back before eight weeks.
“You have to allow it to heal and then build the strength of the joint up, or it will just swell up again.”
United’s season has been plagued by injuries to key players and this is a huge blow to both the player and the side.
Manager Chris Wilder described the 29-year-old in November as “arguably the best player in League Two” when fully fit.
But the Scot has rarely been 100 per cent in this entire campaign, following surgery for shoulder and knee problems in the summer.
He missed the first month of the season and the U’s have been managing the injury virtually ever since.