Raith Rovers defender David McKay will miss the entire 2020/21 campaign after being pencilled in for major knee surgery next month.
The highly-rated 22-year-old suffered ligament damage during training at the end of February but the club did not initially realise the severity of the set-back.
The subsequent Covid-19 outbreak meant that Rovers had to wait several months to book McKay in for a scan and follow-up consultations.
And his worst fears were realised earlier this week when Raith were informed that an operation would be required.
McKay will finally go under the knife on August 21 and faces a gruelling rehabilitation period of between eight and nine months.
It is a hammer-blow for the youngster, who has already made 69 appearances for the Fifers and was eager to make him mark on the club’s return to the Championship.
Raith boss John McGlynn said: “It’s a massive blow for the boy. He will need an operation and it will take him eight or nine months to recover so he will miss the whole season.”
Despite the club being aware that there was a chance McKay would face a lengthy layoff, Rovers handed the former Montrose loan star a new one-year contract earlier this month and will oversee his recovery.