CAPPIELOW captain Stuart McCaffrey expects to be sidelined for the rest of the season, the Telegraph can exclusively reveal.
The 32-year-old Morton defender suffered Plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation of the connective tissue on the sole of his left foot, in the 3-2 win against Falkirk on 24 September last year.
And while he expects the healing process to take two months, the full rehabilitation programme means he is realistically aiming to return to action in time for 2012/13 pre-season training.
He told the Tele: "I had a second MRI scan at Ross Hall last week which revealed I'd torn the plantar fascia in the sole of my left foot.
"The tear is in an area of the foot close to the heel, which is a horrendous place for the injury to happen because it's an area in which the tissue can't be operated on because it's almost like mush.
"I'd rather have broken both my legs than this because it would've probably meant I'd have been back quicker.
"The specialist, Dr McKillop, had a look at it and said it's going to be a time thing in which I have to rest it.
"I'm currently wearing an air cast boot, which is a plaster which can be taken off for driving and things.
"It's going to be at least two months of letting the injury heal. The best-case scenario will be to return in the middle of March, but the realistic goal is to be ready for pre-season training.
"That's because I will have to go through a rehabilitation process which requires a slow build-up until I can go flat out in order to run and jump - and that will probably come around mid-April.
"Then there's the fact of having to build up my actual fitness levels to where they need to be to play First Division football.
"Obviously I really want to, but it's very unlikely I'll be able to play again this season unfortunately."
With McCaffrey's Ton contract set to expire in the summer, he is realistic enough to know the injury may harm his chances of winning a new deal with the club.
And although he is already thinking of a plan B in case he isn't offered an extension, he insists he still has a lot to offer and remains optimistic he can get back to full fitness.
He added: "I'm 33 in May and believe I'm in very good condition for my age and still have a few good years left in me.
"But I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been thinking ahead to next season. My contract expires in the summer and money is tight, even in the Premier League.
"As a footballer, you can't afford to just think everything's going to be hunky dory. You have to prepare for that 'what if' factor, so I have had one eye on what I'd do for work next season if I'm not kept on.
"I know I'm only of use to Morton if I get myself fit and able to play, but with football the way it is now, you live from year to year anyway.
"I could have played every game this season and still been wondering if I'd done enough for a new deal at the end of the season.
"But I am confident that if I manage this injury properly, and don't push it, I can come back and play again in the First Division.
"Ideally I want to be here again next season. I'm really enjoying my time with the club and have a great relationship with the likes of the gaffer Allan Moore, Mark McNally and the chairman.
"I would love to be with Morton next year and be able to repay their faith in me."