Frankie Musonda has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, Raith Rovers manager John McGlynn has told The Courier.
Musonda, 23, suffered the knock during Rovers’ crucial 1-0 victory over Queen of the South on April 13 but played through the pain barrier and completed the full 90 minutes.
The classy centre-half sat out the subsequent fixtures against Alloa and Dundee, but it was initially hoped that he could still feature at some point during the run-in.
However, thoughts of a swift return have been dashed following the results of Musonda’s latest scan, which showed notable damage to the tendon around the kneecap.
The issue may require surgery — Stark’s Park medical chiefs are currently deciding on the best course of action — and the former Luton Town defender is facing several weeks on the sidelines, at best.
“Frankie is out for the season; he’ll not take part again,” said McGlynn. “A fragment came off his patellar tendon down in Dumfries.
“He actually managed to play the rest of the game but the discomfort persisted — and scans have shown that he is going to be out for a good period of time, actually.
“It may well be that Frankie requires an operation. We are still in the process of deciding whether it is a case of surgery, or just rehabilitation.
“As a manager, you need to deal with these blows all the time. Coming up for three years in September in this spell wit Raith Rovers, I don’t think I’ve ever had a full-strength squad to chose from. It’s the way it is.
“We have some cover but we could have certainly done with Frankie being available.
“More than anything, it’s a blow for Frankie because he has enjoyed a great season in his first year up in Scotland, has thoroughly enjoyed it and been a big part of the success we’ve gained by getting into the top four.
“No-one would have wanted his season to end this way.”
There was better news regarding the availability of Ross Matthews.
The combative midfielder has not featured since March 30 due to a persistent toe complaint and, while Friday’s night’s clash with Hearts comes too soon for him, Matthews is set to make a timely return for Rovers’ playoff campaign.
Meanwhile, McGlynn has opted not to appeal against the red card shown to Dylan Tait in the dying embers of Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Dundee.
Referee Willie Collum gave the youngster his marching orders following a hefty challenge on Paul McGowan, albeit it appeared mis-timed rather than malicious.
“We’ll just accept it and move on,” added McGlynn. “But Dylan has done exceptionally well for me. As a young player, you get in the first-team but it can be very difficult to establish yourself in there. But he has done that and it’s credit to him.
“His experiences this season will stand him in good stead for the future.”