Dundee United manager Robbie Neilson has reassured fans that striker Lawrence Shankland will be back sooner rather than later.
Neilson also put a positive spin on his star man’s injury absence, suggesting he could do with the rest.
The Tangerines’ free-scoring frontman suffered a tear at the top of a thigh muscle during the warm-up for Scotland’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Cyprus 11 days ago.
That sidelined him for the Scots’ match in Nicosia and he was released from Steve Clarke’s squad.
He subsequently missed the national team’s home clash against Kazakhstan but, of more concern to United supporters, he will also sit out his club’s Championship clash against Morton at Cappielow this Saturday.
Given the nature of the injury, the fear was that he would be out for a lengthy period but Neilson delivered a reassuring message on that score.
He is confident Shankland will be fit and ready to face Alloa at Tannadice on December 7.
The United manager said: “I expect him to be back next (the following) weekend, to be honest with you.
“He will obviously not make this weekend but he was running on Monday at a decent pace.
“It is more of a precaution than anything else because he is one of our main players.
“We have to be wary not to rush him back.
“It definitely won’t be weeks because he has been training these last couple of days.
“He could have been ready for the weekend but he will definitely be ready for the following weekend.
“Then it is just a decision over whether we start him or keep him on the bench.
“To be fair, the kid could probably do with a break anyway because he has done brilliantly for us.
“He’s had a lot to deal with and has just about played every minute of every game so I am not too concerned.”
Asked about the specific nature of the injury, Neilson replied: “It was just at the top of the muscle.
“It wasn’t an actual tear in the muscle so he is fine.
“It is not an issue for us, and that’s not me trying to paint over it or anything.
“The worry would be that as it is a thigh injury and, say, I pushed him for Saturday and he popped it we could lose him for six or even eight weeks.
“But at this moment in time he should be fine.”
Neilson exonerated the national team from any blame for his player’s predicament, stressing that Scotland did everything properly.
The Tannadice gaffer added: “It’s just part and parcel of training.
“It could have happened anywhere.
“It happened in the warm-up (before the Cyprus match).
“He did the actual warm up and everything was fine. Then he felt it when they were doing some shooting.
“He spoke to the physios and Steve (Clarke) and they just told him to sit on the bench and that they wouldn’t put him on.
“They sent him back the next day so they couldn’t have done any more, really.”
Ideally, Neilson would love to have Shankland available this weeknd but he is confident they have enough quality in their squad to deal with their trip to Greenock.
He has every right to be, too, considering how well they played in the 3-0 victory over Queen of the South at Tannadice when Shankland was in Cyprus.
“We are going to lose players throughout the season for various reasons so it is important we don’t pin our hopes on one individual,” added Neilson.
“We missed him last week and still managed to score three goals and put in a great performance.
“Peter Pawlett will be back in the squad soon so we’re taking Lawrence out and adding Peter. He has great quality so it will be very much like for like.
“People were saying we were missing Lawrence and that would be trouble.
“Although he has done great for us we still have real quality in the team.
“We should have enough for Saturday as well.”