Dundee United’s defensive woes have worsened with the news that Lewis Toshney is out for the rest of the season.
Toshney would have been a candidate to come in at the heart of the backline to replace the suspended William Edjenguele for the final two fixtures of the regulation season against Dumbarton and Morton.
However, the former Raith Rovers man has dislocated his shoulder and will now be unavailable for those fixtures and the Tangerines’ play-off clashes.
It has also been confirmed that Dutchman Frank van der Struijk won’t play again in this campaign, while Sean Dillon is still sidelined through injury.
That leaves Coll Donaldson as the obvious replacement for the banned Edjenguele tomorrow against the Sons and then at Greenock seven days later.
Manager Ray McKinnon said: “Lewis has dislocated his shoulder and it now looks like he is out for the season.
“The timing is terrible. It means we are going to be quite light defensively going into the final part of the campaign.
“Frank also looks like he is out for the season with a recurrence of his calf injury, while Sean is still out but has done some running and could be a possibility for the play-offs.
“So it all adds up.
“Somebody will come in to take William’s place – Coll or whoever – and they will have an opportunity to impress.
“The team won’t be changing dramatically from what it has been lately because our form has been decent.”
A big part of McKinnon’s job just now is making sure he doesn’t overwork his players, what with a hectic schedule ahead.
He said: “We train normally as a group but we are giving people breaks if we feel they need it.
“Players like Tony Andreu or Willo Flood are not going to lose fitness by missing a day’s training.
“The games are coming thick and fast so you do have to manage it.
“You can cut back but you don’t want to under-train and some players like to train as much as possible – that’s what keeps them going.
“So my task is finding the right balance.”
Dumbarton are the visitors this weekend and they have proved to be a pain in the neck for the Tangerines this season, winning both games on their own park.
McKinnon, though, is looking to banish all memories of those particularly painful defeats.
He said: “We got done by a penalty in monsoon conditions in the first game down there and then by a freak cross into the box, again in terrible conditions.
“So we have lost to freak goals at Dumbarton.
“We will put that to one side and it will all be about Saturday.
“Dumbarton are fighting for their lives but it’s about what we do on the day and how we approach the game.
“We are at home and the guys enjoy playing at Tannadice so we will be looking to take three points.
“Our record at home is great, with just one defeat, so we will be looking to maintain that.”
McKinnon was asked if he will be tuning into the Internet or social media (it used to be the transistor radio) during tomorrow’s match to find out how second-place rivals Falkirk are getting on against Queen of the South.
He replied: “I’m not someone who bothers about that.
“My focus is completely on our game and what happens in that.
“We are trying to finish as high up the table as possible and wherever we end up, we end up.
“If that’s second, then great, but if not then we’ll deal with it.
“Before we consider all that, though, our aim is to take six points out of our remaining two games.”