Aberdeen midfielder Connor Barron faces up to a month on the sidelines due to a groin injury.
Barron has played just 22 minutes of Premiership football in 2023 and was absent from the last two matchday squads.
His last game time for the club was seven minutes from the bench in former manager Jim Goodwin’s final game in charge at Hibernian on January 28.
Dons interim boss Barry Robson said: “He’s injured at the minute. He’s had a wee incision into his groin so we’re trying to get him back fit.
“It’s nothing too serious with him. He should be back, I’m hoping, in the next three to four weeks so that’s good.”
Robson could see Barron was struggling
Robson worked with Barron as his coach at youth level and the interim manager believes it was clear the 20 year-old was unable to perform at his best.
He said: “It is because I know Connor so well and he’s a player who came through with us all, I knew he was struggling a bit.
“I’ve had to try and get him right. We’ll be taking it really slow with him because at that age I want him to come back flying.
“I want him to come back properly rehabbed and no wee niggling injuries coming back after that.
“That’s the experience I’ve got working through a lot of age groups at the club, I know what has to be done to make sure the players come back right.
“I don’t want any players out injured when they’re young and starting to have to deal with these issues when they are 28 or 29. I want them to have long, proper careers.”
McCrorie and Scales return for Livingston
Barron is the only absentee from Robson’s squad as he prepares the team for Saturday’s visit of Livingston to Pittodrie.
Ross McCrorie, who was suspended for the 4-0 defeat at Celtic last weekend, and Liam Scales, who was ineligible due to his loan from the Hoops, return to the squad.
The duo’s availability means Robson will be able to call on the services of all four central defenders with McCrorie, Scales, Mattie Pollock and Angus MacDonald all available for selection for the first time the latter duo’s arrival on deadline day.
Robson said: “I think we need as many players as we can. As many players as we can get fit and available is what we need.
“As a coach or a manager you can always sit and moan if you’ve got players injured but then you have to make the decision when everyone is fit to leave someone out.
“It’s always difficult but the more you’ve got fit and available the better and we’re actually quite good at the minute.”
Squad management key for interim boss
Robson is pleased to have options at the back to choose from this weekend but he admits he is treading carefully with the squad as the season enters the home straight.
He said: “We just have to try and get on top of fitness.
“We’re trying to be a bit careful with them, it’s a different type of training.
“It’s a slight change for them and we need to be careful especially at this stage of the year – that’s us nearly into March and some of them have played a lot of games.
“I think they’ve enjoyed it. To work towards the way we want to work is a slow process at times but one that we’re starting to implement slowly to try to get the benefits.”