St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright faces an anxious wait ahead of the club’s Europa league qualifying ties against FK Traika to discover if skipper Steven Anderson has suffered a serious knee injury.
The centre-half was injured in a closed-doors game against Rangers at their Auchenhowie training ground on Thursday.
The 31-year-old is now set to undergo a scan and his manager is already fearing the worst.
If Anderson is indeed ruled out, that will leave Saints with big problems in defence.
Brian Easton is also a major doubt while Tam Scobbie has left for Dundee United meaning that some of the club’s youngsters may have to be thrown in at the deep end in Europe.
Wright said: “Unfortunately Steven Anderson picked up a knee injury and has to go for a scan.
“You hope to come through these pre-season games without picking up injuries but unfortunately we have.
“He has leapfrogged Brian Easton (groin) in terms of being a major doubt for the European tie.
“Obviously we will know more and have a clearer picture when we get the scan results. But right now it is not looking good and we could be down to just three experienced defenders.
“I actually thought it was a pretty bad tackle from Ryan Jack. He didn’t mean it but it was a poor one.
“Keith Watson is training and will play 15 minutes against Connah’s Quay (today, Auchenhowie). I will also be making a decision on left-back Scott Tanser in the next 48 hours.
“But if Ando is out it will give an opportunity to one of our very promising young centre backs. We have Ally Gilchrist, Jason Kerr and Liam Gordon all looking to step forward and stake a claim. They have done well in pre-season and I will have no problems throwing one of them in.”
While Wright is continuing to run the rule over Tanser, he has decided against pursuing his interest in another trialist, former Kilmarnock winger James Dayton.
The manager said: “Our squad of 25 is in with UEFA but you can drop one in before Thursday. If I can’t get a wide player in then it will probably be a left-back I will add to the squad.
“I have maybe been a bit hard on him but I have left James Dayton go. He would have been a good addition to the squad but I am looking for someone to come in and make the starting 11 that much better.
“It is important to bring extra quality to the squad and I don’t think James would have been a regular starter for me. I am better waiting to see what else might become available.
“We have to be even better this season.
“Speaking to the chairman he is on board with me in terms of trying to add quality. That is why we have signed someone like Stefan Scougall.
“Our signings need to have quality to improve the team, not just the squad.”
Wright had initially intended on going to watch FK Trakai in action this weekend but has now decided against making the journey.
He added: “I have watched Trakai on videos and Alex Cleland will watch them on Sunday in the cup away to Garliava.
“You have to be away for three days and I can’t afford to be away that long at this stage.
“We have downloaded footage of their last four matches and we are going through that. We will then have a report from Alex.”
When asked if it was time Scotland had a team in the group stages of the Europa League, Wright replied: “There was only one team who qualified from round one to the group stages last year. It was one of the top Israeli sides. The year before there was only one team.
“There are over 102 teams last year who played in the first round qualifier so out of those sides only one made it to the group stages.
“It is ridiculous. So there is a drive for Scottish clubs to do better in Europe.
“But I didn’t realise the stat and that shows you.
“So if we can achieve that it would surpass anything we have achieved, and I mean anything. Because if you look at it, you are going to have to play teams dropping out of the Champions League qualifiers as your play-off games. It is a difficult proposition.”
“But I do enjoy them. Lithuania is pretty accessible which is really good for our supporters so I am looking forward to it.”