Hearts midfielder Peter Haring is facing up to six weeks on the sidelines after undergoing a double hernia operation on Monday.
The Austrian had been plagued by the problem since last October but was able to hold off having surgery until the start of the winter break.
The 25-year-old was forced off after 54 minutes in the December 29 victory at city rivals Hibs and Levein revealed after the match that Haring had been ‘filling himself with anti-inflammatories and painkillers’ to get himself through games.
Haring, who has scored six goals in 26 appearances this season, is set to miss the Scottish Cup visit of Livingston on January 20 and Premiership home clashes with Dundee and St Johnstone later in the month.
The player, who initially joined the club as a defender from SV Ried but has since established himself in the middle of the park, is regarded as one of Levein’s best signings of last summer.
Levein, speaking to Hearts TV, said: “He’s good, the operation was successful and the recovery time for that is four-to-six weeks.
“I’m hoping it’s closer to four because he is an important player for us, but the operation went well and that’s the main thing.”
Haring has also deputised as captain in the absence of Christophe Berra and Steven Naismith.
The player’s absence comes as defender John Souttar and Uche Ikpeazu step up their rehabilitation programmes from respective hip and foot injuries.