Dundee striker Carl Finnigan has suffered a serious setback just as he hoped to be returning to action.
Finnigan moved to Dens Park permanently in the summer from St Johnstone, after a loan spell, but has been sidelined by a knee injury.
Recently the 26-year-old had appeared to be on the verge of a return to Barry Smith’s squad.
However, he has now picked up a fresh knee problem, which will see him have another operation within the next few days.
Smith, who had been impressed by the way Finnigan had fought back to the verge of a recovery, was full of sympathy for the striker.
”It is a real blow for Carl,” said the Dark Blues gaffer.
”He has been working ever so hard to get fit again, but now this has happened.
”We are all really gutted for him.
”The first operation was a success and I can’t compliment him highly enough for how hard he has been working to try and get back.
”His attitude has been exceptional. But this has come up so it is better he gets it sorted and then start all over again.
”It is hard not to feel for him right now.”
Meanwhile, Smith will take his team to Livingston tomorrow for their Scottish Cup fourth-round clash.
The momentum that saw Dundee take seven points out of a possible nine in the league may have been halted by defeat at St Mirren last weekend but Smith is backing his players to make it through to the next stage of the knockout competition.
He said: ”We want to stay in the cup as long as possible.
”I know what it takes to go on a good cup run so I will be putting that across to the boys between now and kick-off time on Saturday.
”You go into every game knowing you have to win it to stay in the competition or it will be your last.
”It’s all on the day so you are under no illusions what it means.”
Smith has done his homework on the opposition, showing Livingston the respect they deserve.
”We have had Livi watched a few times and they definitely bring something to the table and are a threat,” said Smith.
”They like to go forward, like ourselves, so it should be a good, open game.”
Striker Colin Nish will miss both the cup-tie and the Dundee derby a week on Sunday as a result of the red card he picked up in the St Mirren match.
Smith, though, is confident that Dundee can cope without him.
He said: ”Colin will be a miss as he has done well for us up front but we have players who can come in and whoever that may be it is an opportunity for them to shine.”