Ross County talisman Ross Stewart has suffered an injury setback after moving close to a first-team return earlier this week.
After good progress in his recuperation from a hamstring problem sustained against St Johnstone in late December the Staggies’ top scorer, pictured left, was lined up to join the Easter Road travelling party on Wednesday.
But after training on Monday, the 11-goal striker – recently linked with clubs including Aberdeen, Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers – was withdrawn from the training ground before the 3-0 defeat.
County co-manager Stuart Kettlewell is confident there has not been a complete breakdown in the healing process for Stewart, but will step cautiously in assessing the 23-year-old’s readiness for action.
Kettlewell said: “Ross has taken a little bit of knockback. It isn’t dramatic in the sense that he’s going to be out for a long period of time but we again have to work him up to the point where he is ready to get back out on the pitch.
“He was back in full training on Monday before the midweek match, but he’s had a little issue and has had to take a step back.
“I don’t think we’ve had a complete recurrence of it, but it doesn’t feel 100%.
“At this point we don’t have a clear indication of how long he may be out, but we don’t think it will be a repeat of another six weeks.”
County have managed to get important players including Ross Draper, Iain Vigurs and Don Cowie back on the pitch in recent weeks, but have been hit by a fresh setback with midfielder Joe Chalmers.
Kettlewell stressed: “Joe has been for a scan and he has ruptured ankle ligaments.
“He has missed the last couple of weeks and looks as if he is going to be out for another month off the back of what was just a training ground injury in blocking a shot. We just need to monitor that one.”
Defender Tom Grivosti has already been ruled out for the rest of the season.
Kettlewell, licking his wounds after Wednesday night’s 3-0 defeat to Hibs, added: “We spoke about it at length after the game with the players.
“We’re all a bit disgruntled with the nature of the result and performance off the back of what we saw seven days before against Livingston.
“We have to be methodical about it and think about how we rectify it because there’s another big game coming against a St Johnstone side in good form.
“We have to replicate some nature of the performance against Livingston.”