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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Fraser Mackie

Craig Levein provides Nicky Clark injury update as he heaps praise on Graham Carey

Craig Levein hopes continuing to play for St Johnstone can grant Graham Carey a brief release from the torment of his wife’s cancer battle.

Carey spoke for the first time about Rachel Borthwick’s fight with breast cancer after netting the winner against Ross County on Saturday.

The 35-year-old is battling the disease for the fourth time and Carey said the family was blown away by the outpouring of support from colleagues and fans. 

Saints supporters raised funds at the match with a collection around McDiarmid Park to help pay for overseas treatment.

Manager Levein said his heart went out to the Irishman and his loved ones.

And he stressed that they have the backing of everyone at the close-knit club.

Levein said: “It’s something that football players are not immune from; it’s the worst part of life. 

“There are so many people out there now who are fighting cancer themselves or someone in their family is. 

“You can’t get away from it. I imagine it is in Graham’s head every second of every day.

“Football has been able to give him a little release from it because it’s a chance to focus on something else during matches. 

“All we can do is support him; everyone here is right behind him. His team-mates have been really good and the wider football community have also been keen to rally round.” 

Meanwhile, Levein fears Nicky Clark could miss up to nine games with a calf injury.

The 32-year-old was hurt in the second half against County - only the fourth appearance of his comeback after eight months out.

Levein revealed Clark will undergo a scan to determine the full extent of the issue.

Yet there are already concerns that Clark is likely to be absent until the New Year.

Levein said: “We will get him scanned, just to be sure. But how he’s feeling and how he’s walking it might be six to eight weeks, something like that.

“We don’t really have anyone else really like him, so it is a bit of a blow for us. 

“It seems to happen that, when you come back from a long-term injury, something else is a little weaker in the body and gives in.”

Clark played three games in 10 days after returning as a substitute in the 4-0 thrashing by St Mirren that cost Steven MacLean his job.

He netted twice in the win over Kilmarnock and followed up with the opener against Motherwell.

Levein added: “It was always a risk, but he’d started scoring. He’s our most prolific scorer.

“And you’re thinking: Who else would’ve scored that goal for us? We just have to get on with it.”

Clark was replaced midway through the second half by Stevie May who is a top candidate to partner Chris Kane while Clark is recovering.

Levein will look at alternatives in a bounce game on Thursday at St Mirren.

On-loan Burnley forward Dara Costelloe is dealing with an adductor problem. 

That leaves Luke Jephcott and Charlton loanee Diallang Jaiyesimi for the new boss to assess properly for the first time.

Both have struggled to achieve full fitness since signing in the summer.

“I’m looking forward to seeing who can help us as there are certain players I’ve only watched train so far,” Levein added.

“Watching them in training and playing games are two different things altogether. 

“I’m in the dark at the minute about who I’m best to bring on in certain situations.”

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