Andre Boucaud looks set for at least two weeks on the sidelines after suffering a horrific facial injury during Kettering Town's defeat at Blue Square Premier leaders Stevenage Borough.
The Poppies midfielder went up for a high ball with former Rushden & Diamonds defender Jon Ashton after just 18 minutes at Broadhall Way on Saturday.
The two players collided in a sickening clash of heads and it was later revealed that Boucaud blacked out before he had to be helped off the pitch in a daze.
He suffered a broken nose and needed a total of eight stitches while Ashton had 15 stitches in a head wound.
Poppies boss Lee Harper was angry with Ashton for the incident at the time. But he admitted it was a knee-jerk reaction due to his concern for Boucaud's health.
Harper is now hoping to keep recent arrival Jordan Hadfield at the club on a longer deal after he proved to be a worthy replacement in the 2-0 defeat.
"Andre has broken his nose, he needed three stitches around his nose and five near his eye," Harper said.
"In the heat of the moment I thought it was an unfair challenge but people have told me differently.
"We were very worried about Andre, though, because our physio Jimmy Davidson said his eyes rolled when he went out there to attend to him.
"I felt it was an over-aggressive challenge and maybe I was wrong. I was concerned about Andre and maybe it was a knee-jerk reaction.
"He certainly won't play tomorrow or Saturday. I would have thought it would be a minimum of two weeks that he will be out.
"He will be a big miss for us but I thought Jordan came on and did well and hopefully we will get him tied up for the rest of the season."
Harper, who will today have an injection to try to sort out his
career-threatening back injury, was delighted with his team's display as they pushed the leaders all the way.
"I am over the moon with the way the lads went about their jobs," he added.
"They couldn't be questioned for their effort, passion and commitment.
"We had the chances but our final product lacked quality and we will continue to work on our finishing.
"We haven't got a lot of money but we have got Kwesi Appiah in and we have also got Anthony Robinson joining us today so hopefully things will change in front of goal."
Boucaud injury was most serious Kettering physio Davidson has ever seen.
By Jon Dunham (Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph).
Kettering Town physio Jimmy Davidson has admitted he "feared the worst" when he was greeted with the horrific injury Andre Boucaud suffered at Stevenage Borough on Saturday.
The Poppies head to Gateshead for a re-arranged Blue Square Premier clash this evening but they go there without the midfielder, who was involved in a sickening clash of heads with Jon Ashton just 18 minutes into the 2-0 defeat.
Boucaud was motionless immediately after the incident and Davidson was forced to work quickly with Stevenage's club doctor to stabilise his condition.
Thankfully, Boucaud was helped off the pitch but needed eight stitches in wounds on his nose and under his eye as well as suffering concussion and a broken nose.
And Davidson described it as one of the worst injuries he's seen in his time as a physio.
"It was one of those ones where you could see it coming from a mile off," he said.
"Both players went up and basically missed the ball completely and headed each other's faces.
"We have had a lot of blood injuries this season, more than I have ever known. But that was the worst I have seen.
"Both lads were in a bad state but with Andre the cut was that big that the blood was seeping into his eyes.
"When I got to him there was already a lot of blood but his eyes were rolling into the back of his head so that was why we called the doctor.
"It was a case of rolling him onto his side, applying the pressure to his wound and trying to stem the bleeding. But he did lose a lot of blood.
"You always fear the worst in that situation but when you see a player's eyes rolling into the back of his head you just have to take the right precautions. I did fear the worst when I got out there."
Boucaud will have his nose set once the swelling has gone down and will be out for up to three weeks.
But Davidson insists he is no hero and admitted it was just part of the job.
"I am here to look after the lads and do the best I can for them," he added.
"I am actually a bit scared of blood. But when that happens, you just have to forget about everything else and do your job.
"I spoke to him on Saturday night and again on Sunday and he seemed in good order.
"His head is sore but I was able to have a bit of a laugh and joke with him so that was a relief.
"I would say he will be out for two to three weeks. He was concussed after it so that would normally be 10 days anyway before he can resume training."