Perth Glory will be without Shane Smeltz for the opening month of the A-League season after the star striker underwent surgery to fix a troubling hip complaint.
Smeltz is expected to miss three months after undergoing the procedure, with light training to commence in eight weeks.
Perth begins its season against Adelaide on 13 October, with Smeltz unlikely to return until November.
Glory coach Alistair Edwards said it was important for Smeltz to address the issue now rather than try to manage it during the season.
"He's had it for a little while and we thought having the rest over the pre-season would alleviate the problem," Edwards said.
"So when they went in and had the surgery, they did a bit of extra stuff as well.
"Long term it's good for Shane and the club. Short term not very good.
"But it's a great opportunity for younger players to get some game time and experience."
Smeltz is the A-League's leading goalscorer with 73 goals from 122 games.
The 31-year-old New Zealand international struggled to find top form last season, netting just seven goals from 19 matches.In Smeltz's absence, the likes of Australia U-20 striker Jamie Maclaren, Japanese youth international Ryo Nagai, Chris Harold and Ndumba Makeche will be looking to fill the void up front.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima retained its J.League title with a 2-0 win over Kashima Antlers on Saturday as league leader Yokohama Marinos blew its chance on the final day of the season.