Dundee United boss Csaba Laszlo knows only too well the magnitude of the blow he suffered when Fraser Fyvie picked up a season-ending cruciate ligament injury last December.
However, he has had that opinion reinforced by a former Livingston player who believes that if the influential midfielder had not suffered his devastating knee problem, it could have been the Tangerines and not the Lions who won promotion to the Premiership.
Fyvie, along with winger Billy King, both made their comebacks against Alloa in the Irn-Bru Cup at Tannadice on Saturday.
The manager is delighted they are edging closer to full fitness and he revealed that former Livi player and present United goalkeeping coach Neil Alexander has left him in no doubt just how much the opposition rated Fyvie.
Laszlo said: “It is good to have Fraser Fyvie and Billy King back.
“They both need more game time but generally they are OK.
“Fraser is also the captain and he is very excited to be back in the picture. He is very professional and he knows what he needs to do.
“Every day he becomes stronger and stronger. He has also had to be strong psychologically as this was a bad injury.”
When asked just how crucial it had been losing the 25-year-old last season, Laszlo said: “Neil Alexander who won promotion to the Premiership with Livingston told me everybody was sure that if Fraser Fyvie hadn’t got the injury we would have won promotion.
“He said Dundee United had lost their best player.
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“But Fraser is back now and I hope he can show his quality and help the team.”
Another player who has missed most of this season since joining United in the summer, Callum Booth, is also close to being fully fit and Laszlo welcomed the competition for places.
He said: “Callum is now completely free from injury.
“He played 45 minutes on Saturday and also the week previously so he is ready to start now, definitely.
“It is nice to see competition in the left-back position with Jamie (Robson) who has been working very hard.
“So we only have Stewart Murdoch out injured with a knee problem.
“But we have options in the right-back position.”
The United first team return to action tomorrow following the international break when they entertain Morton on Championship business.
That game should have marked the homecoming of former Tangerines boss Ray McKinnon.
However, the 48-year-old shocked the Greenock side last month when he moved to Championship rivals Falkirk.
Morton have replaced him with former Rangers striker Jonatan Johansson and Laszlo is wary of the effect the new manager may have on the game.
He said: “You always have to be careful when a new boss comes in as the players will want to show him a reaction.
“The previous manager of Morton didn’t move because of bad results.
“He moved maybe because he got a better offer from Falkirk, I don’t know.
“I was a little bit surprised as Morton had a good start.
“We have to be aware that the new manager might change things.
“We are at home and we must be prepared and careful but we are ready for the match.”