Central Coast defender Antony Golec has been stretchered off in Sunday's A-League match with Melbourne Victory, the beanpole journeyman breaking his leg in a clash with goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas.
The pair collided just after the half-hour mark at AAMI Park, with the Mariners trailing 2-0.
Golec's leg struck Thomas' head in a tight race to reach a cross.
Once initial concerns for a possible spinal or head injury to the Victory gloveman subsided, it became clear the 27-year-old had suffered a serious injury.
He was administered morphine on the ground, with a seven-minute delay before his removal from the penalty box and down the race.
Mariners medicos told Fox Sports the initial diagnosis was a fractured tibia - ending his season and requiring a lengthy recovery.
At the time of his substitution, Victory led through breakaway strikes from Leroy George and Besart Berisha.