Doctors said they had never seen his injury before and had to do an exploratory operation on Thursday, according to the Hearts manager Craig Levein. Ligaments have been put back in place but the defender now faces a race against time to play again this year.
Souttar, who picked up the injury against Aberdeen, will spend six weeks resting and recuperating and it is estimated he will require another six to regain full fitness. The news is the last thingHearts need with eight other players presently recovering from injury – Craig Halkett, Steven Naismith, Peter Haring, Jamie Walker, Conor Washington, Ben Garuccio, Craig Wighton and Euan Henderson.
“John got an op on Thursday afternoon. The surgeon has never seen anything like it before and it was very unusual,” said Levein. “The point where his three ligaments are attached to the bone, the sheath that holds them in place is torn and it didn’t show up on scans – CT, ultrasound or anything.
“The surgeon had to, which is highly unusual these days, go into the ankle and explore and see what the problem was. He’s had to reattach the sheath and put the ligaments back in where they should be and then stitch it to the bone, which is quite a major operation.
“What does it mean and how long is he out for? He’s got a plaster on and that’s on for two weeks and he’ll wear a boot for four weeks. There’s six weeks immobile and generally you would have to double that for the time to come back to play. Again, I’m just plucking a number out of the air because with the surgeon saying he had not done anything like this in the past, then him giving us a timescale is difficult for him.”