Hibs head coach Neil Lennon admits the club had no option but to send John McGinn for an ankle operation after the Scotland midfielder turned up to training with a limp.
The 22-old underwent the procedure to mend a calcified bone yesterday and is set to be sidelined for up to eight weeks.
Lennon had been desperate to have the 22-year-old available for next Friday’s top of the table Championship clash at Dundee United despite the player being plagued by the worsening problem.
But the former Celtic boss knew right away that the influential playmaker had no chance of making the Tannadice clash after his condition deteriorated markedly following Saturday’s 4-0 thrashing of Queen of the South.
Lennon added: “We were tempted to try and get him through the United game but it was getting worse and speaking to him the last few days, we took the decision to have the operation.
“John came walking in with a limp on Monday and you have to look after the kid’s welfare at the end of the day, and you do not want to push him too hard.
“He was starting to get pain, not just in the local area, but up the lateral side of his leg.
“There is always the danger that could fracture with it being so unstable.
“It is too much to ask him to keep risking it.
“We’ll get him back in mid-January and that is an important stage of the season, he will miss seven games instead of nine so that’s a bonus if all goes well.
“If we had kept him going we might have complicated things further and there was the chance of a fracture.”
To compound Hibs’ injury woes, Lennon could go into the United clash without his preferred midfield duo, with Fraser Fvyie also struggling with a groin complaint.
Lennon, whose side are three points clear of the Tayside club, added: “We will see how he is next week as he has not trained.
“There is a bit of swelling around the groin.
“We are still hopeful he will be okay for the Dundee United game.
“If that is not the case then we have the likes of Dylan McGeouch and Marvin Bartley that can come in and do a job.
“We do have options but it is not ideal to have those two out at the same time and we are working round the clock to have Fraser ready for next Friday.”
Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano admits McGinn’s absence from the team is a huge blow.
The Israeli internationalist said: “First of all I want to wish him good luck and hope he is healthy.
“For sure it is a big loss for us because he is a very important player for the squad.
“You’ve seen how he has dealt with this injury and how much he has sacrificed himself for the team. We appreciate that.
“We are a strong team and it’s not just John McGinn, we have a lot of good players in this squad.
“I’m sure that whoever replaces him will do a good job.
“We’re going to miss him for sure for these two months but it’s our job to cover him and get good results for the club.”