Ross County co-manager Steven Ferguson has backed defender Liam Fontaine to show a strong response after suffering a ruptured achilles which could end his season.
Fontaine faces an absence of around six months after County’s worst fears over the injury, which the Englishman suffered in Saturday’s 1-0 Championship home loss to Dundee United, were confirmed by a specialist in London on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old left the field in a stretcher after landing awkwardly against United, in what was his first game back following a hamstring injury he suffered in a 2-1 win over Ayr United three weeks previously. Fontaine was also sidelined for several weeks with a broken hand earlier in the campaign.
Although his latest setback is far more serious, Ferguson is confident Fontaine can bounce back, and he said: “Liam is a big character and experienced enough to deal with it. We’ll obviously support him the best we can, to get him back as quickly as we can.
“It is a horrible injury, but Liam will deal with it. He has been in the game long enough to realise that sometimes it is the nature of the beast.
“He has been really unfortunate, latterly, with things he has picked up – all injuries you can’t legislate for.
“But he has recovered before and shown he is mentally strong. We’re hoping that will be the case again.”
Although Fontaine may not feature on the park again this season, Ferguson feels the former Hibernian and Bristol City player will have a key role to play around the club, adding: “I’ve no doubt he will still play a huge part off the pitch as a mentor. We’ll utilise that.
“Liam does that very well. He is not a shouter and bawler but he passes on his experience sometimes with just a little word in the ear.
“I’ve no doubt he’ll continue to support the boys all the way.”
Ferguson is confident the Staggies can cope with the absence of Fontaine, along with that of fellow defenders Callum Morris and Sean Kelly who will not be risked for tomorrow’s IRN-BRU Cup quarter final away to Motherwell Colts.
Ferguson added: “Ross Draper has done great as an auxiliary centre-back, but we would like to see Ross higher up the pitch – and no doubt Ross would want to be higher up the pitch.
“As always, if asked, Ross will sacrifice himself for the team. We’ve already seen he is more than capable of doing it.
“We can continue to do that but we’ve also got young boys like Tom Grivosti, Jack Murray and Ben Johnstone who wouldn’t let us down if that call came for them.
“It’s sad for Liam, but has to be taken as an opportunity for somebody else.”