Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes has urged Mikey Devlin to remain strong in his battle against fresh injury hell.
Scotland international Devlin will undergo surgery next week on an ankle ligament injury suffered during training.
McInnes confirmed the centre-back will be sidelined for up to three months.
It is the latest bitter blow for the 27-year-old, who only recently returned from a long-term absence due to a hamstring problem.
Devlin finally made his first appearance of the season when coming off the bench in the recent Betfred Cup loss to St Mirren.
The run of injuries has been hard to take in and so challenging for Mikey.”
In his debut Dons season, Devlin also suffered a foot injury while on international duty with the Scotland squad, which wiped out three months of the campaign.
There were hopes the centre-back’s injury woes were finally behind him after battling back from the hamstring problem at the end of November.
Now Devlin, out of contract at the end of the season, faces another lengthy spell on the sidelines until March.
McInnes said: “The run of injuries has been hard to take in and so challenging for Mikey.
“It has been pretty relentless for Mikey.
“It must be a challenge for him.
“I picked up a few injuries in my own career and I know how challenging it can be.
“I got a few injuries in a short period of time and you just need to keep working hard and hope there are better days ahead for you.
“We are all gutted because he is a popular boy about the place.
“We all have that empathy and understanding of what he is having to deal with at the minute.”
Devlin had previously bounced back from cruciate ligament damage and surgery suffered while at former club Hamilton which wiped out the entire 2017-18 season.
He signed for the Dons in January 2018 while recovering from that surgery and continued his rehabilitation at Pittodrie.
Devlin impressed so much during that debut Dons season he was selected for a debut Scotland call-up.
Mikey will go and give his operation next week.
“He could be out for three months.”
However, he sustained a foot injury during training with the Scotland squad in November 2018 that ruled him out for 14 weeks.
This summer the defender suffered more injury misfortune when sustaining a hamstring injury in a 2-2 pre-season friendly draw with Ross County.
Devlin only returned to action two weeks ago.
He was looking to force his way into the starting line-up only for his injury jinx to strike again.
McInnes said: “Mikey blocked a shot in training and he has damaged a ligament in his ankle and needs an operation.
“Mikey will get his operation next week.
“He could be out for three months.
“There is a real sense of frustration and disappointment for Mikey and ourselves.”
The manager today confirmed that Michael Devlin will require an operation and will be out for around three months. pic.twitter.com/mGHX4CKM7K
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) December 10, 2020
Devlin was capped three times by Scotland last year – against Russia, San Marino and Cyprus.
The former Hamilton stopper has managed just 35 starts in his two-and-a-half years at Pittodrie with another 16 appearances off the bench.
McInnes said: “We hoped Mikey would play a friendly game last week, but he felt his groin tighten.
“He hasn’t started a competitive game since February and based on that we were reluctant to throw him in.
“We arranged a game for last Tuesday against Celtic’s younger lads, but he never made the game.
“Mikey then trained on Thursday and Friday and played a part at St Mirren on Saturday.
“He can’t get a run or any luck together which every player needs.
“Mikey has made more than his fair share of injuries.
“He has to face the operation, see where we are and then go from there.”
Devlin will be the second Aberdeen player to undergo surgery this month.
Attacker Scott Wright went under the knife in Manchester on Saturday to fix a double hernia.
The 23-year-old has missed the last four games through injury and will be sidelined for a month.
Wright is out of contract at the end of the season and the Dons have opened up talks in a bid to secure him on a new deal.
The attacker recently confirmed he is happy to let his representative and the club thrash out his future while he concentrates on returning to fitness following surgery.
McInnes said: “The surgery went fine for Scott.”