The defender was forced off at half-time in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Sons and went straight to hospital after the match.

He was diagnosed with a chip to the bone and severe ankle ligament damage and is expected to be sidelined for the foreseeable future.

Ton boss Jim Duffy told the Tele: “Thomas went to hospital after the game and has quite severe damage to his ankle ligaments.

“There is also a chip to the bone, but they don’t know if that’s a new injury or an old injury.

“The X-ray couldn’t determine that.

“But I don’t think that will have too much of an impact on things — it’s more to do with the ligament damage.

“He’s on crutches at the moment and the ankle is swollen like a balloon and black and blue. It’s quite a common footballing injury but a very awkward one as well.

“That’s because it’s quite hard to determine how long it will be. You’ll only get a better idea once the swelling goes down.

“So I couldn’t put a definite timescale on it at this moment in time — but he will be injured for several weeks at least.

“It’s a huge blow for us and a huge blow for Thomas. You play all year in League One with the objective to get to the Championship but get injured in the first game of the season.

“If you look at last season, Thomas might have missed one or two games with a couple of knocks here and there but nothing too much.

“So it’s a really disappointing one for the player. I feel for Thomas; he’s a boy who has come through the ranks here with a real commitment to the club.

“But it’s going to be a long season, so from his point of view he’s just got to get himself fit and back ready to challenge for the majority of the season.” With new signing Frank McKeown already absent with a calf problem, the news comes a major blow to the Ton.

When asked if O’Ware’s injury will mean a new defender will have to be brought in, Duffy insisted he had already identified the need for another centre-half in any case.

He added: “We’ve been trying to strengthen in that department anyway, because we knew we only really had Thomas and Ricki [Lamie] who were natural centre-backs.

“Frank [McKeown] trained with the group for the first time yesterday.

“If he doesn’t have any set-backs or any recurrence, it will still be a couple of weeks.

“Whether it will be in time for Falkirk, who knows? It could depend on things going smoothly and no reaction. So ideally you’d like to get someone in to strengthen that department and it was something we were aware of before anyway.

“It is similar to the striking department, but these are two of the most difficult areas to find [players] in.

“Centre-backs who can complement [your existing players] and go and strengthen your side are few and far between.

“We have been looking and the injury to Thomas maybe accelerates that a little bit in terms of trying to get someone in.” On the positive front, Michael Tidser has seen improvement in the knee injury that ruled him out of Saturday’s Petrofac Cup loss to Dumbarton and has an outside chance of facing Elgin City.

Duffy explained: “Michael tweaked his knee on Thursday and felt it on Friday and couldn’t train.

“He saw a slight improvement yesterday. His knee is not quite as painful and hopefully it’s not too long — but again we have to wait and see. I know Michael is desperate to play.

“It’s probably been seven or eight months since he actually played a first-team game, so he was really keen to get back involved.

“We have to make sure he’s right, he’s 100 per cent, and that there isn’t any risk. We’ll assess that as the week goes on and see how he is for Saturday. He’s not definitely ruled out yet.” Fellow midfielder Joe McKee was forced off with a tight hamstring against Stevie Aitken’s side, and Duffy reckons the substitution prevented a more serious problem developing.

He said: “Joe caught his hamstring in time. He just felt it at the top end and I think he did the right thing in terms of coming off.

“I don’t think it’s too bad. He might possibly be out for a week or 10 days but I don’t think there’s too much damage done there.”