TOWN goalkeeper Ian Gray will have another important hand operation on Monday which could rule him out for the season.
It's a sickening early `present' for his 29th birthday on Wednesday and a blow for Town as they bid to maintain a promotion push from Division III.
Gray (pictured) has been struggling to regain full fitness since suffering broken and dislocated fingers on his left hand in the FA Cup defeat at Accrington in November.
There was other damage too and, while he's been back in training and back on the bench for three matches, the injury hasn't properly healed.
Manager Peter Jackson will now look more closely at recruiting cover for first-choice keeper Phil Senior - Academy teenager Jacob Giles was understudy against Lincoln at the McAlpine today.
"Ian Gray is arguably the best keeper in this division so this is a big blow to us," said Jackson before training today.
"We will have to wait and see how things progress, but this will probably rule him out for the rest of the season and that's just a real sickener.
"It's obviously a massive disappointment for Trigger (Gray's nickname), especially as he was looking forward to playing a lot of matches with us after several seasons mostly in the Reserves, but we have at least got the bonus that Phil Senior has stepped in and done tremendously well."
Gray, a summer signing from Rotherham, started the first 22 matches of the season before being injured on that miserable Sunday afternoon at Accrington, when Senior replaced him only to be beaten by a `wonder' strike from Andy Gouck.
Senior has conceded only 14 goals in 14 starts since then, playing a significant part in helping Town to sixth in the table.