Lamine Kone won't play for Sunderland again this year - and may have kicked his last ball for the club.
The Black Cats defender has been ruled out for between eight and 10 weeks with a knee injury.
It means the Ivory Coast international won't play again until January, by which time the transfer window will be open.
Kone has been linked with a move to Premier League new boys Brighton, while West Brom have a long-standing interest in the player, who signed a bumper new deal last season after the club rejected an £18million bid from Everton.
Since then, Kone's stock has fallen dramatically amid some poor performances, but his absence will still be a blow for whoever is appointed as the new manager, who instead will have to rely on Tyias Browning, Marc Wilson and John O'Shea to shore up one of the Championship's leakiest defences.
Earlier today, Ivory Coast boss Marc Wilmots has revealed that the Kone had a problem with his knee and adductor muscle, which is expected to keep him out for a period of four to six weeks.
However, a Sunderland statement tonight predicted around double the time on the sidelines.
The statement said: "Sunderland defender Lamine Kone is expected to be out for eight to ten weeks with a knee injury.
"The Ivory Coast international missed Sunday’s Tees-Wear derby and was not selected for his country’s FIFA World Cup qualifying play-off against Morocco.
"Kone picked the injury in training last week and will now begin his rehabilitation with club medical staff on Wearside."