Aberdeen have received a double striker fitness boost with Sam Cosgrove and Ryan Edmondson on course to return from injury earlier than anticipated.
Dons boss Derek McInnes confirmed last season’s leading goalscorer Cosgrove, 23, this week had a positive return on a scan on fractured cartilage.
That has opened the way for Cosgrove to step up his work with the striker targeting a mid-October return.
It was initially feared Cosgrove would be out for four months until the end of November.
In another boost, on–loan Leeds United striker Edmondson, 19, could return to Pittodrie as early as next week to step up his rehab from an ankle injury.
Craig Bryson, however, has played his last game for the Dons after his contract was cancelled eight months early.
The former Scotland international, who joined from Derby last summer, made only 14 appearances.
Bryson struggled to establish himself at Pittodrie due to a persistent ankle problem and manager McInnes admitted he was bitterly disappointed the move did not work out for the ex-Kilmarnock player.
He said: “It is with a heavy heart that we’ve reached this point with Craig.
“Throughout his time with us he has been faced with challenges but despite that he has put everything into trying to overcome those.
“Unfortunately, this has impacted the influence that both him and I wanted him to have on the team.
“This is through no lack of effort on Craig’s part, but we feel this is the best conclusion and we wish him well in his next move.”
On a more positive front, the Dons boss is optimistic that Cosgrove and Edmondson will soon be available again.
McInnes said: “Sam got good news on his scan this week and, all being well, he will be able to step up his work now.
“He will hopefully be back in full training and available by the back end of the next international break which is the week beginning October 12.
“Ryan is doing well down at Leeds.
“I have spoken to him over the last couple of days and, if he has another good week at Leeds, we will look to get him back up with us at the beginning of next week to see his progress.
“From what we are led to believe, Ryan is progressing well and hopefully he can be back among things in the next few weeks.”
McInnes drafted in Marley Watkins on loan from Bristol City until January as an emergency signing due to a striker injury crisis.
In the 1-0 defeat of St Johnstone, he had to play Scotland U21 international midfielder Lewis Ferguson up front.
Next month he could have an abundance of centre-forward options with Curtis Main also now recovered from knee surgery.
McInnes said: “Obviously that is the best case scenario for both Sam and Ryan.
“We weren’t expecting either of them back until the end of November.
“It would be a significant upside if we could get them back before then, although they obviously still have a lot to do before that is the case.
“Certainly we have had a lot of encouragement that both lads could be back a lot quicker.”
Scotland international centre-back Mikey Devlin is also on course to return next month.
Devlin has been sidelined since suffering a hamstring injury in a friendly against Ross County in July.
Winger Matty Kennedy withdrew from the Northern Ireland squad to face Romania away in the Nations League due to a back complaint last week, but the Dons boss is confident the January signing will be fit to face Kilmarnock on Saturday.