Heartbreak for Northern Ireland's Luke McCullough as ligament tear rules him out for season
Luke McCullough's pre-season ecstasy has turned to agony after he was ruled out for the entire campaign before a ball has even been kicked.
The 22-year-old Northern Ireland international suffered a knee injury while playing for Doncaster Rovers in a friendly against York City last Tuesday, just a day after it was announced that he had signed a new three-year contract at the Keepmoat Stadium.
That knee injury has now been diagnosed as a cruciate ligament tear and the Portadown-born defender will miss the full season.
It comes as a hammer blow for McCullough, who was hoping to press his claims for a regular place in the Northern Ireland team after being on the bench throughout the Euro 2016 finals in France.
"I really feel for the boy. He's just signed his new contract and then he's done his cruciate," said Doncaster manager Darren Ferguson, who had planned to use McCullough in a defensive midfield role this season.
"He will be out for the season certainly. These things happen, but the boy has got to stay strong.
"We'll help him with his rehab but now he's got to take the advice of the surgeons. You can't rush these things. It's probably the worst injury you can have.
"Luke's a big player for us because of the way he plays. In this league, in that role, he's probably the best player if I'm honest."