Hearts defender John Souttar has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to a ruptured Achilles.
It comes as a blow to recently appointed boss Ian Cathro, as he was thought to be key to the rookie manager’s passing style of play.
The twenty-year-old was stretchered off during his side’s 4-0 defeat to Celtic on Saturday, but the Hearts faithful’s fears over a long-term lay-off have been confirmed.
The late flurry of transfer activity at Tynecastle will come as a consolation though, as many of the nine signings performed well during the convincing 4-1 victory over Rangers on Wednesday.
The double signings of veteran Aaron Hughes and Greek defender Anastasios Avlonitis has provided more depth and managed to marshal the threat of Kenny Miller throughout.
Having worked together in Dundee United’s youth set-up, the defender had been having his most consistent season yet in the top flight, making 25 appearances in all competitions.
Souttar had been earmarked as a potential Scotland international following some impressive displays this season, but he will now be unable for selection by Gordon Strachan.
He has played six times for the U21 side but with the lack of defensive options at senior level, other than the struggling Grant Hanley and Russell Martin, the upcoming games against Slovenia and England could have seen him make the step up.