Dundee United have been dealt a hammer blow with the news No 1 Benjamin Siegrist is out for the rest of the season.
Scans revealed the Swiss stopper has broken his wrist and will play no further part in United’s campaign – with three Premiership fixtures remaining and the Scottish Cup still up for grabs.
His absence for the latter quest for glory, which continues at Hampden next Saturday as the Tangerines take on Hibs in the last four, will pain boss Micky Mellon.
Thankfully, the Terrors gaffer has other dependable men between the sticks to call on in Deniz Mehmet and Ross Doohan – signed on an emergency loan from Celtic last week.
Despite having two top keepers competing for the gloves, Mellon is gutted for Siegrist – outstanding all season for United.
The 29-year-old picked up the injury in the warm-up before United’s 1-0 Scottish Cup last-16 win over Forfar and has been on the sidelines since.
‘It’s very disappointing for the big fella because he has been fantastic for us’
“Benji has broken his wrist, he went to Manchester for a scan and they saw it was fractured,” Mellon revealed.
“His season is over. He doesn’t need an operation but he has to have rest and rehab.
“It’s very disappointing for the big fella because he has been fantastic for us.
“Now we are getting to these massive games at the end of the season it’s a shame he’s not going to be involved in them.
“That’s football though, it can be a cruel game at times but what it does is give others the chance to come forward and make their statement.
“We have Deniz and also signed Ross Doohan from Celtic on loan so we are pleased with what we have.
“We know we have keepers who can play in big games and it’s not a worry.”
United still speaking to Pawlett about new deal
Elswhere, Mellon confirmed talks are ongoing with midfielder Peter Pawlett over a new deal, with the 30-year-old out of contract in the summer and free to speak to other clubs.
St Johnstone had been credited with an interest in the former Aberdeen man but United appear keen to keep Pawlett at Tannadice for a while longer.
“The talks are ongoing, I’m not involved in the negotiations,” Mellon said.
“They come to me and I give my thoughts, but I don’t get involved beyond that.
“It’s ongoing and we’ll see what happens over the next few days and weeks.”
Kids key to the job at Tannadice for boss Mellon
Although his key first-team men are the focus for Mellon, another priority for the Terrors boss is the young players trying to make the grade in his side.
In the 3-0 defeat at Kilmarnock last midweek, there were full debuts for 16-year-old defender Kerr Smith, midfielder Florent Hoti and minutes off the bench for academy kid Archie Meekison.
Mellon was keen to stress developing their own young talent is key to the future success of the current project at Dundee United.
He added: “The remit here is to play young players and bring them into the first-team environment.
“When I first came I was presented with a job and you take the job if you believe in the plan.
“This club has to bring through our own players to be successful, that’s the only way we’re going to do it.
“Young players need encouragement, support and time – and they need an opportunity to play.
“They have to be good enough, we are not just going to play boys to tick a box.
“To find that out you have to play them, you have to find out what they can do and what they need to improve at.
“There is a big picture, the club puts a lot of money into the academy and expects the manager to help turn them into established players.
“So any chance we get to do that, we will do that because that’s the job.”
County clash a chance for youngsters to stake a claim
With a semi-final on the horizon, Mellon will be hoping to carry forward momentum with victory over Ross County on Saturday as league business returns to Tannadice for the first time since March 20.
However, he insists the door will remain open for any kids hoping to force their way into the side for the visit of John Hughes’ relegation-threatened Staggies.
“We will look at the Ross County game and see if there are any opportunities for young players,” he continued.
“We didn’t put a team out against Kilmarnock to lose the game and we will pick a team against Ross County we feel can get a result.
“I believe the way the club wants to go forward is the way it has to be, I am on board with that.
“The place has been set up to achieve it but the players have to be good enough.
“The young ones who have come through to play have earned the right.
“They have to show they are capable of winning games for Dundee United and for us, as a coaching staff, we have to work with them to achieve that.”