The Southampton attacker's shock injury will keep him out for the rest of the season as well as Japan's World Cup qualifiers in June, but he his not ready to give up the fightJust three months after his highly-anticipated arrival in England, Japan's Tadanari Lee will find himself on the sidelines until at least August as he rehabilitates his surgically-repaired right foot.
At first considered it to be a light injury that occurred after a team-mate trod on the foot in training however later doctors discovered hairline fractures as well as ligament damage in the second toe after a third series of x-rays.
Until that point, Lee was considered a possibility to return on any given match day; instead the 26-year-old had wires inserted into his right foot to stabilise the affected area on March 30, and faces a minimum four months of recovery before he can step on the pitch again.
Rather than helping Southampton return to the Premier League for the first time since their 2005 relegation, Lee must instead hope that his team-mates can keep the squad on top of the table with five matches remaining.
"To be honest, even now I've had trouble accepting the situation and sorting out how I feel," the player wrote in his official blog on April 3 before adding a message to his supporters.
"If there's anyone reading this blog who's hurt themselves or gotten sick, and you're worried and depressed and can't think of what to do… we may not be able to meet in person, but I hope we can overcome this together."
Lee's absence will not only be felt at St. Mary's. The recovery time also rules him out of June's World Cup qualifiers, when Japan hosts Oman and Jordan before traveling to Australia. With Keisuke Honda struggling to regain his fitness and players such as Shinji Kagawa and Mike Havenaar failing to perform well on the international level, Alberto Zaccheroni will have even less breathing room than before as he considers his call-ups.
But the striker, who is already on crutches, remains positive as he prepares to fly back to Japan in order to continue his recovery.
"After watching [video of] myself rehabbing for the first time, my first impression was that I had no energy," Lee wrote in his blog on April 5. "Starting tomorrow I want to rehab with a smile!"