Dundee and Scotland defender Lee Wilkie will not have a third operation on his damaged knee after being told surgery will not save his career.
Wilkie has twice come back from serious knee injuries
Wilkie, 25, now faces playing on without the cruciate ligament or the prospect of quitting football.
"If I can build the muscles up over the next few months then I might be able to keep playing," he told the Sun.
"It could cause problems in later life but I've already been told I'm going to have accelerated arthritis."
Colorado-based specialist Dr Richard Steadman has told Wilkie that more surgery will make no difference after studying scans of the injury.
"There is nothing else I can do now - this is the last resort," added the centre-half, who has been capped 11 times for Scotland.
"Things don't look particularly good but what choice do I have?"
Wilkie was carried off in last month's defeat by St Johnstone, only his third game after 11 months out, following his second operation.
He first injured his knee in a derby against Dundee United at Dens Park in January 2004.