It seemed necessary to handle the whole thing with care the moment Gary McDonald came into view, the effects of a thudding clash of heads the weekend before still evident in his face. Or, more accurately, just above his left eye.
The St Johnstone midfielder was left needing six stitches in a gash after a collision with Kilmarnock's Darren Barr, an accident which left the Perth side to see out a goalless draw a man down. McDonald has tried to pay the wound little notice since it has put in jeopardy his involvement in a match with Ross County this afternoon, although that has not been so easy given that he has been unable to train or drive until the swelling went down. "It was up like a balloon," he said.
His hope of playing has since been inflated, in part due to the good humour with which his injury has been treated at home. His young son, in particular, has been quite taken with the sight of his father with a bandage covering his eye. "It was black and blue and shut," McDonald said. "My wee boy said I looked like a pirate so he was giving me bonus points. We have been quite cautious [in training] this week and we'll assess it again [this morning] to see if I can face County."
His absence would be disquieting for the Perth side since the former Hamilton Academical player has established himself since arriving this summer. It had been a role which had seemed reserved for another - County's Richard Brittain - although McDonald did not become drawn into the enduring saga surrounding the midfielder's decision to renege on a pre-contract. "Hopefully it will just be banter among the fans," he said.
The County captain has returned from suspension for the visit to Perth, having missed his side's opening two fixtures after getting sent off during a pre-season friendly in the Netherlands. Ivan Sproule is also free to start today after a red card against Forres Mechanics this summer and it is a situation Derek Adams would like to see amended.
"I understand the SFA are looking at that closely, which is great," said the County manager, who also has Kevin Luckassen and Scott Boyd back from injury. "I think that a team should put in their fixtures for pre-season and, if you're sent off, you serve it during that schedule. You shouldn't be able to arrange other games to get rid of it like in the past."