United boss Paul Simpson confirmed at his Thursday afternoon press conference that Tuesday evening’s scan on Jamie Devitt’s hamstring brought bad news for the attacking midfielder, who now faces a long period on the sidelines.
“In all honesty it wasn’t good new for him,” he said. “We were hoping it was a grade on or grade two, but it’s probably looking closer to a grade three.
“As it stands at the moment his season is finished. We don’t think he needs surgery, there’s a little bit of a doubt at times with a grade three as to whether that requires surgery.
“We’re waiting for a specialist just to confirm that, but it isn’t great, and I’m really gutted for him. I’m gutted for me because from a selfish point of view I like having him available, but let’s forget about that.
“It’s him I really feel for. Mentally it’s a tough one for him to take. I class this is a long-term injury because it will probably take him about 12 weeks to get himself right again.”
“I’ve spoken to him and I’ve assured him that we will look after him properly,” he added. “The other aspect here is that he’s out of contract at the end of the season, but that makes no difference to us.
“Ross, our physio, has already said that he’ll be available at the end of the season to help him to get ready for pre-season, whether that will be with us or somewhere else.
“He’ll be looked after because he’s been good for us and for me, and it’s the right thing to do. What we need now is for him to keep bringing his personality and presence into the dressing room.
“He’s a great character, we need his help in there in that way, that hasn’t changed. It’s horrible timing for him, it will be a test for him to stay positive, but I think he’ll be determined to see it through and get back to doing what we all know he can do.”
As with any injured player, it leaves a place to be filled, with competition for the shirt high as others step up to the plate.
“We had Joel [Senior] back in this week, and none of these lads who have longer-term injuries enjoy the situation they’re in,” he told us. “He’s a young lad who has one that will keep him out for a long time, but this is where they have to show their mental strength.
“As staff and as a club, and within the dressing room, this is where we have to give them as much support as we can.
“Our part of this is that we are determined to get Jamie and Joel through what is a tricky time, get them on the road to recovery and back playing again.”
“What we have to get now is somebody who jumps up and starts kicking and screaming and shouting that they want to be in the team instead of Jamie Devitt,” he continued. “That’s all you can do as a footballer. One downside for one footballer opens the door for somebody else.
“Whoever does get the chance, whether it be on Saturday, or somebody different for the next game, they have to grab it. I think players who started the first four games all grabbed their opportunity and deserved to stay in it.
“There were some really good performances on Tuesday, particularly the way they finished the game. It’s just about players performing.
“The first bit is about me and the staff preparing them properly, getting them right, me picking the right side and hopefully them going out and performing.
“I thought it was brilliant to get Rod and Brennan back, and Danny Devine showed he’s raring to go. I didn’t want them to have to play 90 minutes, but needs must at times.
“They both got through the game fine and they’re ok now, and they’ll both be available for Saturday. We’ve just got to wait and see who is right.”
On the shorter-term absentees, Tuesday night’s game against Carlisle City could see a return for Gime Toure, following his groin problem.
“That’s the plan, as long as he continues training well,” he explained. “He’s trained with us all week, he may have even joined in the end of last week, but he won’t be involved at the weekend, it’s too early for him.
“I’m hoping there will be maybe three or four players who’ll get a run out in that game, I think it’s really important to keep getting match practice. And for me personally it’s important to be able to see them - there are a few lads I’ve not been able to see in a game.
“You can see the full profile of a player when you put them out in a game, and I’m looking forward to seeing that on Tuesday. But, first of all, it’s Barrow.
“There’s definitely a lot more to play for on Saturday, but it’s a game that we want to do right before we look at Carlisle City and getting minutes into legs that will hopefully benefit players for our first-team games to come.”
Another factor this week has been a sickness bug, which has affected some of the squad.
“At this moment it isn’t causing me concern because they aren’t going to lose any fitness, but we’ll asses them tomorrow,” the manager confirmed. “We’ve still got 48 hours before the game as I’m sat here now, so there’s plenty of time for them to be right.
“We’ll put out the strongest side we can out at Barrow which hopefully goes and does the club justice.
“The other player not involved on Tuesday was Jon [Mellish] but think that’s ok now. His partner is still expecting, that hasn’t changed, I think she’s due at the end of this month.
“He will be given every support that’s needed on that, and that is something I am absolutely adamant about.
“I was put in a situation when I was a player where I wasn’t allowed to be at the birth of my second son, probably the only regret I’ve got in the whole of my football career, so that will not happen, he will not be put under any pressure to play.
“We’ll see what happens. I would like to think he’s going to be available for selection, but if a north-east maternity hospital’s getting a phone call then maybe not.”
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