Ross County defender Liam Fontaine will not be fit for Sunday’s Betfred Cup tie against Hibernian despite a valiant effort to return to face his former club.
Englishman Fontaine has been sidelined since suffering a cracked bone in his arm during the Staggies’ 1-0 group stage victory over Dundee United on July 17, but returned to non-contact training earlier this week.
Although the 32-year-old is ahead of schedule in his comeback bid he will miss out on Sunday’s match at Easter Road, where he spent three-and-a-half years prior to joining County in January.
Staggies co-manager Stuart Kettlewell revealed vice-captain Fontaine’s recovery has been aided by a change in his diet, in an attempt to speed up the repair of the damaged bones.
Kettlewell said: “Liam is genuinely one of the best professionals I have come across.
“He changed his diet to try and incorporate a quicker recovery. By that I don’t mean he was eating burger and chips constantly, it was already a good diet, but it’s something that speeds up this process.
“He has basically changed his calorie intake from what it would be if he was training on a daily basis. There have been another couple of aspects to try and promote the healing of bones.
“I need to stress that comes from his professionalism, and how quickly he wants to be back. He has delved right into that himself. He had himself earmarked for trying to push for a place for Hibs, but we think it may be a bit too soon.
“It is just important we manage his recovery process with the medical team who have been great. He’s ahead of schedule.
“For us to go and pitch him in too early would be madness for him in terms of the risk of putting him out for a longer spell. We need to make sure the time is right for him to come back in.”
County defeated Hearts colts 2-1 on Tuesday to progress to the second round of the IRN-BRU Cup, which is made at Gretna Green this afternoon.
Although Kettlewell was pleased to progress thanks to Billy Mckay’s double, he felt the much-changed Staggies fell short of the required standards, adding: “Against Hearts colts on Tuesday night we made some changes and still demanded the same, but I felt we came up short in those standards. The players know that, albeit we got into the next round of the cup.
“We take it on to the next game looking for the same principles we set out over pre-season.”