Hearts right-back Marcus Godinho is likely to miss the first few months of the season as he recovers from his latest knee operation.
The 21-year-old Canadian underwent surgery in May after it emerged that the pain which kept him out of the closing four games of last season was caused by a microfracture in his knee.
The injury is similar to the one which sidelined him for the bulk of the 2016/17 campaign – his first term at Hearts – but is not as severe.
Godinho is in Canada after being given additional time to rest by his club, and is due back in Edinburgh on Tuesday before returning to Riccarton to work on his rehabilitation. The defender is unlikely to play until well into the autumn.
“Marcus won’t be ready for the Betfred Cup games,” manager Craig Levein told the Evening News. “He’s a good bit behind so it will be a while before we see him. I don’t know exactly when but I’m guessing it will be September, October before he’s ready to compete again.”
Godinho’s latest injury flared up at a particularly inopportune time as he was just beginning to establish himself in the first team after making six consecutive starts through March and April following a surprise debut away to Motherwell in the Scottish Cup. In addition, he made his debut for Canada in March and was hopeful that a strong finish to last season could help him establish himself as the club’s first-choice right-back in the upcoming campaign after an injury-disrupted start to his Hearts career.