Cobblers midfielder Shaun McWilliams could miss up to six weeks of action despite 'responding well' to the appendix operation he underwent at the weekend.
The 21-year-old was initially ruled out of Saturday's game at Oldham Athletic with illness but was later diagnosed with appendicitis and underwent surgery that evening.
McWilliams has become a regular first-team player for the Cobblers this season, starting 17 of 18 games before missing out at Boundary Park, but he now faces a spell on the sidelines, though manager Keith Curle is unsure as to exactly when he will be back in action.
Striker Junior Morias missed around a month of last season after undergoing the same operation.
"He's responded well and I think it shows the work that goes on behind the scenes and the infrastructure that we have in place," said Curle.
"Somebody might just think he has a stomach bug but the protocol is to see the doctor, see the physio and speak to both of them and they then make the decision.
"If you have ruptured appendicitis it can lead to more complications but if you've got a headache or a stomachache there's a protocol whereby players are required to get it diagnosed early and get it operated on early.
"Getting it operated on early has saved any future mishaps."
On a timeframe for McWilliams' return, Curle added: "I think we can only go by the recent one we had which was Junior Morias and he was back out on the pitch after five or six weeks."