Ross County will be without Iain Vigurs until after the turn of the year as the midfielder requires an operation to fix a foot problem.
Vigurs originally suffered the injury last November before spending five months on the sidelines, with the problem healing in time for him to feature towards the end of last season.
Although Vigurs enjoyed a strong start to the Premiership campaign the issue resurfaced in the 2-1 win over St Mirren on September 14, with Staggies co-manager Steven Ferguson confirming the 31-year-old will undergo an operation this time around – ruling him out until 2020.
Ferguson said: “The information we got initially was that it wasn’t going to be as serious as it was the last time, but Iain Vigurs is needing an operation on his foot.
“He will get that in the coming days, which will hopefully fix the problem. It will then just be a matter of recovery, but we will not see Iain on the football pitch in 2019.
“He didn’t get the operation on his foot last year. He was all set for the operation, and then it got better.
“We went with that and he had a good pre-season, he was ready to go. This has now reinjured it, and they are saying it will now need that operation we spoke about last time.
“Scans always show things, there is always an opinion on how it’s going to go. You then wait that time to see how it’s going to go, and sometimes that doesn’t quite match up to the first opinion.
“That’s what has happened in this case, where it’s not getting any better at all after we thought it would.”
Ferguson hopes Vigurs can put the latest setback behind him, adding: “It’s obviously hugely frustrating for Iain, and for us because he’s such a good player. Nobody will be feeling it more than Iain at this time, so he needs to make sure he keeps his head right, his foot will get fixed and we will move on from there.”
While Vigurs faces another lengthy absence, Ferguson confirmed fellow midfielders Ross Draper and Lewis Spence are close to returning to action, having both started for County’s reserves against Dunfermline yesterday.
Ferguson added: “We lose Iain, but we got Ross Draper on the pitch on Saturday and he played for the reserves yesterday.
“He is equally a big player for us, so if we can get him back fit and in the group that is a positive.
“Lewis Spence is another midfield player that works really hard. He also played in the reserve game, so he is getting closer to breaking back into our thoughts again for game time.
“It’s a loss with Iain – but we are happy with the group we have got.”