It’s the injury footballers dread throughout their career and, for Celtic starlet Marcus Fraser, the news that he had snapped his cruciate ligament could not have come at a worse time.
Manager Neil Lennon confirmed yesterday that the 18-year-old defender, of whom he has the highest expectations, was badly injured a fortnight ago and has had surgery.
Fraser, right, will be out for nine months, and will miss out on the certain opportunity of playing in the SPL for Celtic once the champions have retained their title.
It is the kind of injury where the younger you are, the more chance you will make a full recovery, but as Lennon said “there’s never a good time for it”.
Fraser had already made his first-team breakthrough in the 3-1 defeat of Rennes in the Europa League last season, and he followed that with an impressive SPL debut against Inverness Caledonian Thistle last month.
Lennon said: “It is a massive blow for him and us because when he played at Inverness I thought he was very, very good, a very consistent performer.
“He was only 17 when he was thrown in against Rennes but he coped with the occasion very well. He was flying.
“He’s had surgery and is going to be out until the end of the year.”
Lennon added: “He’s a great lad, with a good temperament. He really enjoys defending, he’s a very good defender.
“He’s not the biggest but he’s mobile and reads the game very well. He would have featured between now and the end of the season and been involved next year as well, so it’s just curtailed him for a while.”
Lennon named Fraser and fellow under-20 defender Stuart Findlay as possible prospects for Scotland in future, but it was current captain Scott Brown, who should return before the end of the season, that Lennon would like to see back in a Scotland jersey possibly as soon as the World Cup qualifier in Croatia on 7 June.
“I don’t think it would do him any harm if he’s fit and healthy and wants to go,” said Lennon.