Hearts have promised Callum Paterson full support as he faces up to ten months out with cruciate ligament damage.
The 22-year-old is devastated after scans diagnosed the knee injury, which saw him stretchered off in Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Kilmarnock.
Paterson collided with Nathan Tyson and fell awkwardly shortly after putting his team 1-0 ahead. He was substituted and underwent scans to confirm the extent of the problem yesterday.
He now requires surgery and will spend anything up to ten months recovering. Hearts pledged to do everything possible to help the Scotland defender.
“It’s a bad one for Callum and everyone here is gutted for him,” head coach Ian Cathro told the club website. “There was real concern for him and, unfortunately, that concern has been compounded with the news that he could be out for up to ten months.
“Callum’s a top-class player and we’ll miss him in the first team, but we now have to look to those within the squad to step up and fill the void. We’ll help Callum as much as we can though this difficult time.”
Paterson’s absence is a substantial blow to Hearts as he is the Edinburgh club’s joint-top goalscorer with ten goals.
It also seriously dents the player’s hopes of securing a move to England. He is out of contract at the end of the season and was hoping to secure a transfer south either in January or in the summer.
He will now be out of action until around September next year. The 20-year-old Liam Smith will now assume Paterson’s right-back position for Friday night’s Premiership match against Aberdeen at Tynecastle.
Following the scan results, Paterson tweeted: “Absolutely gutted. But these things happen in life. I will be back.”
Speaking before the injury was confirmed, Cathro explained that he was already preparing for life without Paterson given the likelihood that he would soon move on.
“That was a possibility. We were working on the basis that this is something we may need to do,” said Cathro. “Obviously, it’s not the circumstances we were looking for that to be in.
“Callum has developed into somebody who is at a point in his life where he is able to put his qualities into the game. He’s one of the guys who can go and directly influence the game.
“He’s got a specific way of being a right-back. He scores goals because he wants to – he really wants to. He finds himself in these situations frequently. Whether it’s when we attack down his side and he can arrive, or he’s strong on set-pieces.
“If the team can stay high and balanced he can be allowed to find himself in these positions for maybe a bit longer than a generic right-back would.”