DAVID BATES faces a significant spell on the sidelines with injury, and while bitterly disappointed for his defender, Graeme Murty has called on his other stoppers to step up and fill the gap he will leave.

“David Bates suffered a significant injury. He has damaged ligaments in his ankle, and while he hasn’t got a break in there, there is significant bone bruising.

“I would suggest he will be a minimum of six weeks away, and while it is a difficult one for him to take and a very, very painful one, I think we should count our blessings as given the mechanisms of it and the nature of it, it could have been a lot, lot worse.

“We are devastated for the young man but relieved it’s not any more significant.

“He is a young man who kind-of encapsulates our journey so far. He has come a long way in a short time – there are improvements to be made for him as there are for us as a group and for us as a football club.

“It could be a big loss for us, but as I will always say, it is an opportunity for someone else to go ad continue David’s really good work and push us forward.

“We are going to need the full squad between now and the end of the season. It’s disappointing for David but it is up to the rest of the guys to take up the banner, move it forward and help him to get over the disappointment by continuing the work he has done.”

Meanwhile, Murty spoke about the job Steve Clarke has done at Kilmarnock ahead of tomorrow’s match, adding: “He has been outstanding. I don’t want it to be the Steve Clarke show obviously, but since he has come in he has got a team that are playing for them, have belief, have structure and the job he has done has been encapsulated best by the atmosphere at his ground for the Aberdeen game during the week.

“The atmosphere was great there and I think Kris Boyd commented that the belief within their group is now there within their fans.

“That is testament to the job he has done, and I obviously hope we can derail it tomorrow and make sure we don’t get caught up in what they are doing.

“We just need to focus on us and make sure we send out fans home happy rather than theirs.”

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