James Keatings has been ruled out of action for up to six weeks after damaging his ankle ligaments in Dundee United’s Betfred Cup win over Buckie Thistle.
The former Hibs, Hearts and Hamilton Accies striker was assessed yesterday after sustaining the injury 10 minutes from time in the 3-0 victory over the Highland League champions on Wednesday night.
It is a huge blow for Tannadice boss Ray McKinnon, who has overhauled his squad this summer in search of a side capable of winning the Championship and returning the club to the top flight.
Keatings, who has won a hat-trick of promotions to the Premiership with his previous three clubs, was expected to spearhead the Tangerines’ attack but has now been told he will miss at least the opening month of the campaign, and perhaps six weeks.
McKinnon said: “It’s a real, real blow for us. He has had a shot and his standing foot has just got caught in the turf.
“I’m really devastated for him, because he’s such a good player, and all the intricate football we played in the first-half was going through Keats.
“I’m feeling for him. He wanted to hit the ground running here and that’s a big downer for us. But we’ll dust ourselves down and see how he recovers.”
McKinnon was already seeking attacking reinforcements and has admitted he will have to redouble his efforts after losing Keatings for a significant length of time.
He added: “We might have to try to get another striker. We definitely need another striker, but want to get the right one.
“We need to be patient but we’ll have to sort something out.”