Ross County manager Stuart Kettlewell says English defender Tom Grivosti will be eased back into action after returning from a long-term foot injury.
Grivosti was a substitute in County’s 0-0 draw against Hibernian on Saturday, his first outing for nearly a year.
The freak injury came in a 4-0 defeat to Rangers on October 30 last year, after he caught the boot of striker Alfredo Morelos as he went to clear the ball.
After scans revealed he had ruptured a ligament between toe bones, Grivosti faced an arduous recovery process with a number of setbacks.
Although Kettlewell was thrilled to see Grivosti back on the park, the Staggies manager insists the 21-year-old will not be rushed back, despite having a number of defenders sidelined for tomorrow’s trip to Motherwell.
Kettlewell said: “We’ve got a couple of doubts, Coll Donaldson being one, and obviously Callum Morris being out.
“Tom’s return has been really timely for us.
“What I don’t want to be is unfair to him. He’s had no game time at all for obvious reasons, with the pandemic, and has only trained for the last three or four weeks. It is difficult to pick up friendlies up here.
“I trust him. I think to ask him to play 90 minutes right now would be a huge ask, but that hour mark is probably something he could achieve.”
Kettlewell was responsible for bringing Grivosti to Dingwall as a youth player in 2017, following his release by Bolton Wanderers, during his time as the Staggies’ under-20s coach.
Kettlewell was thrilled to see the Liverpool-born defender emerge from such a draining period, adding: “I’m delighted. It has been a really tough road for him.
“I’m told it was 352 days out, the best part of a year.
“There’s been so many twists and turns in that time, so many setbacks in what he’s been through.
“There’s a personal relationship with myself. I brought him to the club a number of years ago from down south and gave him an opportunity, and he’s been nothing but brilliant for me.
“He’s grown as a player and as a person.
“When you see him getting knocked off his perch, it is quite a sore one to take, not just for him but for the likes of myself.
“He’s a popular character in the dressing room and all these guys appreciate him and know where he could probably go in his career, if he can get game-time regularly.
“It’s a massive plus to have him back. He actually said to me after the Hibs game that it felt like his debut again. It felt as if he was starting all over again, just because it had been so long.
“That probably gives an indication of where his head was at times during his recovery.”
Kettlewell was pleased with the way the Staggies backline adapted to playing with a back-three in Saturday’s draw with Hibs, adding: “It is so important for us as a football club that we’re flexible in what we do.
“We aren’t going to dominate possession every week, so we have to be mindful of what the opposition do.
“I thought how we set up worked, but it only works if the players put it into action.
“The boys stuck to their task, including the likes of Regan Charles-Cook, who stuck manfully to Martin Boyle all day.
“That’s what we’re going to need as the season goes along.”