Derry footballer's hopes of securing promotion from division three have been dealt a severe blow, with the extent of Karl McKaigue's injury.
The experienced Slaughtneil defender wasn't listed in the panel for Saturday's draw with Leitrim.
Manager Rory Gallagher confirmed his ankle injury, sustained in training last week, could keep him out for most of their league campaign, including their clash with Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday, March 1.
“It doesn't look like he is going to play in the short-term,” Gallagher stated.
“That's the way it is. He just went over on his ankle last week, it was so innocuous and it looks like he could be out for a period of four, five or six weeks.”
Niall Keenan got some minutes under his belt and will be in contention for a start against Down this weekend.
Gallagher added that Niall Loughlin and Padraig Cassidy 'won't be far away'. Shane McGuigan came off the bench after 41 minutes on Saturday night and his goal spearheaded Derry's second comeback.
“Niall and Shane would be massive additions up front and hopefully Paudie Tad (Cassidy) as well,” he said.
“He (McGuigan) was only recovering and they felt there was only the 25 or 30 minutes without risking fatigue.
“We don't want a situation where we put him out for the rest of the league. As much as we wanted to win today, that was the medical advice.”
Gallagher also confirmed that he was awaiting the results of a Niall Holly's scan which took place midweek.
For the second game in succession, Gareth McKinless was listed in the programme before being replaced ahead of the game.
The Ballinderry man last saw championship action in Derry's round three qualifier win over Cavan in 2016. Over the last three years, he has started one game and came on as a sub in another – both against Tyrone.
It's understood, McKinless has withdrawn from the squad and is planning to spend the summer playing football in New York.
Meanwhile Liam Óg Hinphey has told Derry hurling boss John McEvoy he won't be able to commit to county action this season.
“What a servant to Derry hurling. The door will always be open to Liam but he is not able to commit,” McEvoy stated. “I am not going to put any pressure on him.”
He also indicated that Brendan Rogers would only be concentrating on inter-county football this season.
“I had a great conversation with Brendan at the start of the year,” McEvoy said. “It didn't work for either party last year, it didn't work for him and it didn't work for us.”
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