Widnes Vikings stand off Joe Mellor is expected to miss the first two months of the 2017 Super League Season with a knee injury.
Mellor, 26, recently named co-captain with Chris Houston injured his knee against cross-town rival Warrington in their friendly in December.
“I’ve got the brace on for another two weeks and I’ll have about six weeks of rehab after that,” Mellor said.
“To miss the start of the season is gutting. I want to lead the team out. I can’t do anything about it. I’ve just got to get on with it.”
With the sudden departure of Kevin Brown to Warringon and the injury to Mellor, young rookie Tom Gilmore will now have to shoulder the brunt of the play making duties and is expected to be assisted with Veteran Aaron Heremaia who is a option coach Denis Betts may opt for in the opening game against Huddersfield on February 10.