Scotland manager George Burley admits the absence of Craig Gordon for the crucial 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier against Norway next month would be a "massive blow".
The Sunderland goalkeeper looks set to miss the trip to Oslo on 12 August after club boss Steve Bruce expressed concerns about his fitness ahead of the new season. Gordon underwent knee surgery at the end of last season but is still experiencing pain and now looks unlikely to make the start of the new campaign.
That places a question mark over his availability for the national team, with Burley set to turn to David Marshall or Neil Alexander instead following Allan McGregor's involvement in the infamous 'Boozegate' affair. "Craig is one of the top goalkeepers anywhere in Europe and it would be a massive blow if he was not able to make the Norway game," Burley told the Scottish Daily Mail.
"He is going to see the specialist again within the next week. We will know after that if he has a chance of being in contention but Steve Bruce and Sunderland's medical staff feel it is unlikely he will be ready."
Wolves striker Chris Iwelumo is also set to miss the trip to Norway after breaking a metatarsal in a pre-season friendly. Burley added: "There have been a number of injury problems in recent weeks but these things happen. It's not ideal but it won't sway our focus from what needs to be done over the last three qualifiers."
Speaking on the club's official website, Bruce said: "Craig has not recovered and that's a worry after his operation. It's not a huge, huge worry - the boy will be okay - but my worry is will he be fit to start the season given it's the same knee he had the operation on."