Dundee United have been dealt a blow after striker Pavol Safranko was named in the Slovakia squad for their opening European Championship qualifiers.
While his inclusion reflects his fine form since joining the Tangerines on loan from Danes Aalborg last August, it means he will miss two important Championship fixtures.
The Tangerines face leaders Ross County at Tannadice on Tuesday night in what is a must-win game if they are to retain even a slim chance of catching the Staggies in the race for automatic promotion.
By then, though, the 24-year-old will be back in his homeland preparing for a qualifier against Hungary that takes place a week tonight.
He will also miss the Tannadice clash with Alloa on Saturday week because the Slovakians are away to Wales the following afternoon.
Ironically Safranko’s call-up comes after he was dropped to the bench for last weekend’s defeat at Partick Thistle – the first time since his arrival he’s not started a game for which he’s been available.
He did end up playing for most of the proceedings at Firhill after Osman Sow picked up an injury and had to be replaced with just 21 minutes on the clock.
Safranko’s arrival couldn’t prevent United going down 2-1 to the Jags but his goals this term have had a major impact.
His 11 goals in 29 appearances in tangerine to date have made him joint-top scorer alongside Nicky Clark.
Safranko’s work rate during games has also seen him repeatedly praised by boss Robbie Neilson.
And while United are delighted his form for them has seen him rewarded with an international recall – he already has two caps to his name – the timing could have been better.
They’ll be hoping Sow recovers from a calf problem that’s dogged him since his January arrival from MK Dons in time for Saturday’s trip to Dunfermline.
Even more vital will be having the Swede in the squad for next week’s two games when Safranko will be missing.
The striker is not the only United man to be recognised at international level this week.
Teenager Mati Zata will also be on his travels next week after being called up by Zimbabwe.
He’s in their squad for the U/23 AFCON qualifying double header against Mozambique, with the games taking place on March 22 and 26.
The 18-year-old was recently loaned out to local juniors Tayport to give him game time.
Midfielder Zata joined United after a spell at Rangers just over a year ago.
He’s had first-team experience in the Irn-Bru Cup this season.
Zata has dual nationality and has also represented Scotland at U/16 level. His inclusion by Zimbabwe at U/23 level gives him a choice to make.