Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes will delve into the January transfer market after suffering a double injury blow.
Defender Greg Leigh has been ruled out for eight weeks with a stress fracture of his tibia while midfielder Craig Bryson will undergo surgery on an ankle injury which will rule him out until March.
The loss of two key performers is a huge blow for the Dons boss who will be eager to source replacements.
He said: “Greg’s injury seemed really innocuous and we thought nothing too sinister was going on. We got that news on Friday and he’s now on crutches for four weeks, maybe even a bit longer. So he’s out for two months. It’s his tibia so he’s got to stay off that and give it every chance to recover. It’s a real blow for us because we weren’t expecting that at all.
“Bryson wasn’t really getting anywhere with how we were managing the situation. We felt that we needed to get a specialist to have a look and give us a second opinion.
“He went down to Glasgow on Friday and he’s going to have surgery in the first week of January on his ankle. He’ll be out for eight weeks with that.
“It’s not the ankle injury he came with. There’s a preconception maybe that he arrived with this injury but it’s his other ankle. Unfortunately, it was the one he annoyed first time around against St Johnstone at home.
“He then felt it at Hamilton away when he turned it again. Then he got another clatter on it at St Johnstone away there. A combination of all three really, it’s just not really had a chance to recover. We’ve tried everything we can.
“The bad news is that’s he’s out for eight weeks. The good news is that the surgeon thinks it is minor surgery. It’s quite a straight forward operation and he should get back. But obviously we’re going to be at the end of February by the time he is back.”
The loss of the duo leaves McInnes with positions needing cover when the window opens next week.
He said: “The news with the two boys isn’t great and it puts the squad under a bit of strain.
“I think we’ve always been looking to try to get a couple of signings in anyway and hopefully we can still go ahead and do that.”
While the treatment room at Pittodrie shows no sign of clearing heading into 2020, the Dons boss hopes Sam Cosgrove will be available to face Livingston at Pittodrie on Boxing Day.
The club has appealed the red card he received in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Celtic and will discover today whether the 20-goal striker is available.
McInnes said: “We believe it’ll be held at 5.30. We’ve put our case forward and hopefully we’re successful with that.
“We’ve still got another day of training on Christmas Day so we’ll know by then if Sam’s available or not. We’ve got a team in mind with Sam and we’ve got a team in mind without Sam. We’ve got to prepare for both.”