CARLOw midfield star Brendan Murphy looks set to miss the first half of next year's National Football League due to a lacerated kidney.
The former Aussie Rules player picked up the injury while playing for the Army last month and while it has not affected his health, he has been warned off all exercise.
"Brendan has been told to take a complete break from training until he has another scan in late January," said new Carlow boss Anthony Rainbow.
"I've met and talked with Brendan and, thankfully, he is fine health-wise," he added. "But he has to get the all-clear first and then get back training so I'd say, realistically, it will be March before he's ready to return to us."
The towering midfielder first came to prominence when helping Carlow to reach a Leinster minor final in 2007.
He was recruited by the Sydney Swans, but, after two injury-dogged years, chose not to renew his Aussie Rules contract and, since 2010, has been a Carlow regular.
Former Kildare star Rainbow has replaced Luke Dempsey at Carlow's helm for 2013 and he has confirmed that the county will also definitely be without two of last summer's first-choice defenders, corner-back Padraig Murphy and wing-back Tony Bolger, for the entire league campaign.
"Both of them will be away with the Army on overseas duty during the league, but we will have them back in time for the championship," he said.
He has retained the same back-room team as Dempsey and most of the same players, but he has introduced (or reintroduced in some cases) players like O'Hanrahan's Ray Walker and Eire Og's Murty Ware and Alan Callinan.
Carlow were among the first tranche of counties who were allowed resume collective training and have been back at work since November 15.
Their first game in 2013 will be against Dublin on January 6 in the new-look round-robin O'Byrne Cup in a group that also includes DCU and Wicklow and they open their NFL Division 4 campaign against Tipperary on February 3.