Former Kildare footballer Brian Flanagan is facing the prospect of a knee replacement in his 30s.
Flanagan, who has announced his retirement from inter-county football, has struggled with a knee injury for the last two seasons. He has been told that he will have to have a knee replacement in the coming years unless he undergoes a rare procedure that involves removing part of his tibia.
Flanagan was ever-present during Kieran McGeeney's six-year reign with Kildare and is only 29.
He ruptured his cruciate ligament two days after Kildare's 13-point League defeat to Dublin in Croke Park in March 2013 and has never recovered full fitness.
Despite two operations, including a complete posterior cruciate ligament reconstruction in February, he has been advised that his football career is over.
"I've a fully arthritic knee, I have no cartilage, I have an artificial cruciate, a screw in the middle of my tibia, a screw in the middle of my femur and I have staples down the front of my knee. The X-ray is like a piece of timber with a load of bolts out of it," he said.
"I've been told I'll be doing well to get to 40 without needing a knee replacement. I was up with the surgeon last week. He said 'no, it has slipped back again' and the cruciate that they did put in has loosened slightly, so it's unfortunate.
"I knew something wasn't right when I was on the bike rehabilitating in recent weeks."
Flanagan is weighing up whether to have a third operation in under two years but may do so for "day to day comfort."
"They wait until February or March to give it 12 months since the last operation to let the cruciate bed in. It involves opening the front of your knee, coming down about 40mm from the top of the tibia and it's cut off from that point," explained Flanagan, a financial consultant.
"The surgeons told me he has only done a handful of them and he didn't think there is any other surgeon in Ireland doing them.
"I'm not 100pc sure I will go for it but it would be purely to prevent a knee replacement in the next few years. I'm already booked in for that. But it might buy me a bit of time."
Flanagan regrets that Kildare didn't get over the line in Leinster during his time as they reached five successive All-Ireland quarter-finals. He plans to immerse himself in coaching with his club Johnstownbridge in the coming years.
He may not be the only departure in Kildare with speculation over other possible changes in personnel as Jason Ryan settles in for a second year in charge.