Sunderland-born defender Jordan Richards will miss the start of the season with Hartlepool United.
The full-back has been ruled out for a minimum of six weeks due to a back injury, which had been troubling him in recent weeks.
The 22-year-old missed the friendlies against Dunston UTS and Chesterfield as a result and will not be available until September.
Richards went for a scan late last week and the results have revealed that there is a stress fracture in his lumbar spine and the injury requires almost total rest. “We’ve caught the injury early enough that it is already starting to heal,” explained head physio Ian Gallagher.
“We can’t really treat it as such, we just have to allow it time to heal and that means Jordan won’t be able to do a lot for the next six weeks apart from some work in the pool.
“After that, we’ll take him for another scan and hopefully then we’ll be able to progress his rehabilitation and get him back on the pitch.”
Pools kick off their League Two campaign at home to Morecambe on Saturday.