Ross County leading scorer Billy Mckay will not play again this season after his worst fears of a broken arm were confirmed.
Mckay suffered the injury after landing in agony while scoring the winning goal to complete his hat-trick in a vital 3-2 win over Ayr United on Tuesday. The result maintained County’s five-point lead at the top of the Championship, with a game in hand over nearest challengers Dundee United.
Mckay’s goal – which was his 20th of the campaign – has proven to be the Northern Irishman’s final contribution this season, with Staggies co-manager Steven Ferguson confirming the former Caley Thistle striker faces a three-month recovery period after he underwent surgery earlier this week.
Ferguson said: “It is what we thought and feared – he snapped his upper arm.
“The good news is he has been in and had the operation. It is all done and fixed, so it is now the start of his recovery.
“That hat-trick took Billy up to 20 goals, and everyone knows he has been a real talisman at the top end of the pitch for us this season.
“Obviously he is going to be hugely missed but Billy knows his contribution and knows what Stuart Kettlewell and I think of him. We just want to make sure Billy gets fixed and gets back in the time needed.
“It can be 12 weeks, so he is certainly ruled out for this season. Billy’s target is to make sure he is ready for the start of the following season.”
While the loss of Mckay is a huge blow in County’s pursuit of the title, Ferguson is more hopeful about fellow forward Ross Stewart, who was forced off early on against Ayr with a thigh problem.
Ferguson added: “We’re hoping Ross isn’t too bad and it settles down quickly.
“He was still sore immediately after the game and the next day, but we feel it is one that can be turned around pretty quickly.
“It was his thigh and he felt a little tug when he planted his foot to strike the ball.
“It may be a little bit of fatigue but thankfully we don’t think it is serious.”
Ferguson has challenged attackers Stewart, Declan McManus and Brian Graham to fill Mckay’s void, adding: “These guys have had to be patient as Billy had cemented himself at that top end of the pitch.
“The boys will be well aware we can’t call on Billy Mckay so it is someone else’s job to step up to the plate.
“Ross has been in form and Declan McManus has been really patient and Brian has been stop-start with injuries and suspensions.
“He is crying out for a run of games – and it is open season at that top end of the pitch.
“Every one of them has something to offer and something different to offer. But they now need to pick up the baton.”