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David Martindale fears Livingston defender Ayo Obileye is going to be sidelined until the start of next season.

The 28-year-old went off injured in the second half of Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at home to Hibernian with suspected medial ligament damage.

“I think it’s a bad one,” Martindale said on Monday. “He’s going for an MRI once the swelling’s down. When I say a bad one, we think he’s going to miss the rest of the season and potentially into a bit of pre-season. It’s not a great one.”

Obileye’s injury allied to the suspension of fellow centre-back Jack Fitzwater means Dominican Republic defender Luiyi de Lucas, who joined in January, is set to make his first start at home to Dundee United on Wednesday.

“Big Luiyi’s now been in (training) since early December so there’s enough adaptation period there,” said Martindale.

“His chance has probably come a bit earlier than I thought but I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do. I’m more than happy with putting him in at right centre-back.”

Martindale, meanwhile, has taken “full responsibility” for his red card towards the end of Saturday’s match.

The Lions boss was initially angered at being sent to the stand for “jokingly” flashing his middle finger and saying “one minute” when Hibs goalkeeper David Marshall shouted over to the sidelines to ask how long was left in the match.

Having had time to reflect, Martindale said on Monday he will accept whatever punishment comes his way.

“I take full responsibility for it,” he said. “It was a wee bit immature of me. I was having a bit of banter with David Marshall but I’ve got to recognise that people are looking at me as a leader and I shouldn’t have done it.

“It was irresponsible, I understand that. I let myself and the club down. I expect to get banned. I used it in a joking manner and David was laughing. I went in and spoke to the linesman after the game.

“I said you’ve got to take the gesture in the context it was used but he said it was the gesture alone. At that point I was frustrated and I never really took his point of view, if I’m honest. But a wee bit later on, I was sitting in the house and I thought ‘I actually see it from his point of view’.

“I was in the wrong, plain and simple. I shouldn’t have done it, jokingly or not. Whatever the SFA want to do, I’ll take it on the chin and move on.”

Martindale also used his pre-match media conference to call for “more protection” for imposing Livi forward Joel Nouble.

“Joel’s old school, he’s honest to a fault,” said the Lions boss. “He gets fouled but still tries to maintain his balance and then that leads to a pass where the execution is not quite there.

“I think referees can help players like Joel Nouble. Sometimes he’s got three or four players hanging off him, pulling at him, but because he’s 6ft 3ins, it kind of goes unnoticed and it’s allowed, whereas if you did that to Bruce Anderson, he’s getting a foul.

“It’s testament to Joel’s character that he still tries to stay up when he’s getting fouled but I would like to see a bit more protection for Joel.”