Middlesbrough and England winger Stewart Downing will be out of action for up to three months after being told he needs surgery on his injured right foot.
The news means Downing will miss England's World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Andorra next month and could scupper his chances of a close-season move to a bigger club.
The 24-year-old was widely expected to leave Middlesbrough this summer regardless of whether the club survives in the top flight, which looks unlikely.
Boro go into their final match of the season, at West Ham on Sunday, needing a win combined with defeats for both Newcastle and Hull if they are to survive.
Boro assistant boss Malcolm Crosby said: "I think Stewart is going to be out for two or three months at least. That's not good news for him or the club.
"Stewart has played every game for us this season and has made a big contribution. He hasn't scored goals, but he has worked extremely hard."
Tests on Downing's foot have not revealed a fracture but he will definitely require an operation, according to Crosby.
Liverpool are widely seen as the leading candidates to sign Downing, who was the subject of an offer from Tottenham last year that was turned down by his current club.