Matty Kennedy was carted off in agony as St Johnstone kicked off pre-season with a 1-1 draw against Glentoran.
The 24-year-old winger was the victim of a crunching tackle by Glentoran’s Callum Birney after just 12 minutes of the opening match of a two-game trip to Northern Ireland.
Kennedy was left clutching his right leg and in obvious pain. Despite treatment on the pitch he was unable to carry on.
Kennedy sat for most of the first-half with his head in his hands or covered by a jersey – before he was carted by two physios to the dressing-room at half-time for more treatment.
The sight of Kennedy wincing with every step despite no weight placed on the right leg was not a good sign for Tommy Wright who will be keeping his fingers crossed for a clearer and happier diagnosis on the problem in the next 24 hours.
After the early setback Saints striker Chris Kane was first to test Marijan Antolovic in the Glentoran goal with a snapshot from 20 yards.
Michael O’Halloran came on for Kennedy and Saints were able to recover from the early injury setback to take the lead.
Tommy Wright has been playing his cards close to his chest with the four trialists he has brought with the squad to Northern Ireland refusing to name names out of courtesy to the agents involved.
Three made it into the squad for this game and one of the mystery men – a striker – made an early impression with the opening goal.
The donkey work was done by Kane on the left and a neat pass to David Wotherspoon teed up a shot at goal.
When his effort was blocked and the ball broke free, the Saints number 24 pounced to score easily from six yards.
It wasn’t all one way traffic.
Glentoran – who finished seventh in the Northern Irish Premiership last term – looked sharp in the final third and Zander Clark had to be alert to make a smart save from Curtis Allen in 28 minutes.
Clark is expected to put pen to paper on a new deal in the next 48 hours, but despite his quality he was unable to prevent a Glens equaliser in 34 minutes.
The ball broke to Curtis Allen 22 yards from goal and the striker smashed home a swerving shot on the volley.
The half-time interval saw Saints make sweeping changes. Clark, Richard Foster, Liam Gordon, Steven Anderson, Scott Tanser, Kyle Mclean, Murray Davidson, David Wotherspoon, Chris Kane and the goalscorer all made way.
Elliot Parish and Wallace Duffy made their debuts and were joined on the park by Jason Kerr, Callum Hendry, Liam Craig, Ali McCann, Liam Craig, Ross Callaghan, David McMillan and the two remaining trialists – a left-back and a centre-half.
Parish made a fine block from Johnny Frazer three minutes after the re-start. Hendry then thought he’d scored with a drive from 20 yards, but the Glens keeper made a fine save.
The match – played in the shadow of the Belfast’s Harland and Wolff shipyards at the Oval Showgrounds – rarely caught fire in the second half. But Saints will be happy to have shaken off some of the close-season rust while keeping their fingers crossed for the Kennedy medical update.