Dundee United manager Csaba Laszlo has played down hopes of an imminent return to first-team action for Lewis Toshney.
The defender last played for the Tangerines on October 21 of last year in a home defeat to Inverness Caley Thistle.
Toshney suffered a serious knee injury that required surgery and missed the rest of that season.
A loan spell at Arbroath was cut short in July because of a recurrence of the injury but he has since played and scored for United’s reserves.
Despite seeing action for Craig Easton’s team, Laszlo doesn’t see a return to the senior side for Toshney any time soon.
The United boss said: “Lewis has been out for a long time so it is not easy for him.
“He is fighting to come back.
“He has trained and played a couple of times for the reserves but what he needs, if it is possible, is game time.
“He has been out so long that he may need maybe even a year to get back to the same level.
“I am happy that he can train but I don’t think we can talk just now about the first team.”
Meanwhile, United host Ross County at Tannadice on Saturday and Laszlo is expecting a tough test.
“I have watched them,” he said.
“They are an experienced team that is very good in defence. It is not easy to score against them.
“We need to do everything to score and keep the three points at home.
“These games can decide a lot and we have left four points behind against Alloa and Morton.
“I think teams that come to Tannadice knows we have a good team that can play fast football, especially if we have space.
“We will see which style Ross County bring and it may not be different to before.
“I need my players to work as a team and that’s the most important thing.”