Centre-half McKeown suffered a serious injury in training last Thursday and underwent a scan at the beginning of this week.

According to Ton boss Duffy, the early indications are that he has suffered extensive knee ligament damage.

He told the Tele: “Frank has had a scan and it has revealed quite significant damage. There has been damage to the medial and posterior ligaments.

“They also believe there is damage to the cruciate, but they don’t know how much: if it’s a tear or an actual rupture.

“If it’s a rupture it’s longer term, and if it’s a tear it’s still a number of months. There’s still a lot of swelling in the knee, so we’re not 100 per cent clear to what level yet.

“But he will need surgery and he’s going to be out for 12 weeks minimum, and anything beyond that depending on the severity.

“It will probably be next week before we find out the extent 100 per cent, but even with the injury he’s got just now and if there’s nothing else masked by the swelling, it’ll still be three months.” But Duffy is confident the 28-year-old fireman has the fortitude to handle the body blow and bounce back.

He added: “I’m gutted for him. He’s taken this opportunity but never had the chance to truly see what it’s like to be a full-time footballer because of the niggly calf injury and then this.

“So it’s been a double whammy for him, but there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s football and it happens and you have to just deal with these situations unfortunately.

“Frank’s a tough character, a strong boy both mentally and physically and I’m sure he will cope with it.”