Bury's survival hopes have been hit with the news Steven Schumacher has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
The club's leading goalscorer requires surgery on a double hernia problem and is set to go under the knife next week.
Shakers boss Kevin Blackwell is disappointed to lose his skipper, who has netted 10 times from midfield, as the club battle to avoid the drop into npower League Two.
"We knew Schuey had a hernia shortly after I arrived here," Blackwell told Shakers Player.
"He's been hanging in there since Christmas and it got to the point that if he had it done then, he would have been out for six weeks which could have ruined the season.
"Now it looks like a double hernia. The hernia has gotten to the point of no return and he has felt that lack of sharpness.
"He's had one or two chances that you would put your house on scoring. He is exemplary on the volley, but he just cannot lift the leg enough to get around the shot.
"He's at that point now where it needs to be done so he will see a specialist.
"We cannot afford for him to miss pre-season."