Hearts have been handed a major boost after it emerged Lee Wallace may not require surgery and could return from his serious knee injury in three months.
Wallace suffered a torn posterior cruciate ligament in Scotland's 2-1 defeat of Liechtenstein on Tuesday night.
Jim Jefferies had resigned himself to being without the left back for a minimum of six months but the Hearts manager has now received promising news from Wallace's consultant.
"The medical people have told us that they don't think an operation is required,'' Jefferies told Hearts News.
"Normally when you tear a cruciate ligament there is other damage and a lot of other issues but this doesn't appear to be the case with Lee.
"They are talking about him being in a splint for four weeks and then taking the rehab from there and he could be back in 12 weeks.''
Jefferies was thrilled with the news, although confirmation will not be received until next week. The manager added: "This is massive news for us, although we won't have it confirmed for sure until Lee sees the specialist next week.
"Fingers crossed their initial thoughts are correct. This is more encouraging for us and a big boost for the lad, as being out for 10 to 12 weeks is better than the 24 which we all thought.''
The first fixture Wallace will miss as a result of the injury he suffered at Hampden Park is Saturday's clash with Celtic, meaning Jefferies will be without two members of his first-choice defence.
Marius Zaliukas is also out with a knee problem, while he remains the subject of contract discussions with majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov with his loan from FBK Kaunas due to expire in December.
The Lithuania international last week denied claims he had asked for £20,000 a week to sign a new deal and insisted he hoped the situation would soon be resolved. Jefferies has called for Zaliukas to do his utmost to extend his stay in Edinburgh.
The Hearts boss said: "A bit of it is in Marius's own hands as well - he's got to want to stay here and he's got to want to agree terms."