RHYL manager John Hulse will have to pursue his Euro quest without the assistance of talented midfielder Jimmy Kelly.
In a shattering blow, Kelly has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
“We are all devastated that Jimmy’s knee operation hasn’t ended his problems,” said the Belle Vue chief.
“He has seen the surgeon again after a bad reaction and been told that he needs a further operation which will effectively rule him out for the season.
“Everyone at the club was hoping to see Jimmy back soon because he is a great lad and a class player and we’ve missed him a lot.
“We are all hoping he will be well enough to take part in the pre-season training and be able to return to the side as soon as he is fully right again.”
Third-placed Rhyl, held to a 1-1 draw at newcomers Neath last week, will be eyeing up maximum points against fifth-from-bottom visitors Caernarfon Town, but Hulse is bracing himself for a severe test.
“Caernarfon had a great win over Carmarthen Town last week and are always fired up when they come here so we are expecting a really hard game,” said Hulse, who welcomes back first-choice keeper Lee Kendall following his three-match ban.
Gareth Wilson is recovering from a hernia operation and although his return is delayed, he hopes to resume training next week while long-term injured James Brewerton is poised for a welcome run-out with the reserves at Nantlle Vale.
Hulse added: “We have been hit by a tremendous glut of injuries that has really disrupted our selections, but it’s no good complaining.
“We just have to get on with it and make sure we stay focused on the job in hand.”
One statistic to comfort the Rhyl camp is that Caernarfon have not won at Belle Vue for a decade and today sees their 13th attempt to break that sequence.
However, Canaries boss Steve O’Shaughnessy will give a vote of confidence to the players who broke a seven-match lean spell last weekend, writes Keith Evans.
O’Shaughnessy said: “We played well against Carmarthen and should have won far more convincingly than 2-1 – and the lads deserve this encouragement.
“Rhyl will make it a tough game for us, but we are keen to build on what we achieved last weekend to put a little run together.
“Having said that, in reality, anything we get at Belle Vue must be regarded as a bonus, although we believe we have a great chance of doing something there.”
Caernarfon will be encouraged by their performance in a slim 1-0 home defeat to the Lilywhites in September.
O’Shaughnessy said: “Rhyl’s goal that day came from a set-piece, which left us kicking ourselves and, while that was a long time ago, we have a score to settle.”
Midfielder Peter Doran, twin brother of left-back Phil Doran, who featured against Carmarthen following his arrival from Leigh RMI, will be involved again.
And O’Shaughnessy is working hard on plans to further strengthen his squad in the week ahead.