Ross County winger Michael Gardyne will miss the bulk of the remainder of the season after scans revealed he needs surgery on a hamstring injury.
Gardyne has faced an anxious wait on the injury since he picked it up in County’s 1-0 victory over Kilmarnock on December 14, causing him to be substituted after only nine minutes.
The former Dundee United player, who will turn 34 next month, has been dealt a cruel blow after learning he must undergo an operation on January 7, which will require a recovery period of at least three months.
Staggies co-manager Stuart Kettlewell said: “It’s not looking so good for Michael. He’s going to have to go for an operation at the start of January.
“It’s similar to what happened with Callum Morris last year – and I think he missed four months off the back of it.
“It’s an injury to his hamstring tendon which is a massive blow. We all know how big a player Michael is for us, and how well he has done for us.
“He’s pretty down about it just now, understandably knowing his nature. He just wants to play and do well for the team.
“He just needs to go through the surgery. We will get him the best care we possibly can, as ever, and see how his recovery goes.”
County’s squad has been depleted by a virus which affected preparations for Saturday’s 4-0 defeat to Livingston, with Kettlewell confirming the Dingwall men have continued to be affected in the build up to today’s Premiership visit of Motherwell.
Kettlewell added: “Iain Vigurs was to be on the bench on Saturday, but on arrival at the ground he started feeling terrible with the virus. He just took a turn for the worse.
“Another one that has been pitched into the mix that looks very doubtful is Lee Erwin. He was sick on Monday, it’s the 48-hour thing where we can’t have him around the club. We will play that one by ear.
“Liam Fontaine, Keith Watson and Brian Graham are all back in, but low on energy having had the virus for a couple of days.”
Kettlewell says the Boxing Day visit of Well provides a quick opportunity to bounce back, but he is refusing to pinpoint the illness as an excuse for Saturday’s heavy loss.
He added: “It is actually a wee bit annoying when people try to put that slant on it.
“It is something you have to contend with and deal with. We had a team fit enough and able enough to win the game.
“We don’t get too carried away. There was anger and frustration on Saturday, but this time of year always presents itself with another game.
“For me, that’s always the best medicine.”