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Motherwell forward Joe Efford faces several months on the sidelines following quad surgery but the club reported more positive news on Louis Moult.

Efford tore a quad muscle in training and has been ruled out for the rest of 2022 but Moult could return before the World Cup break.

On Efford’s blow, manager Steven Hammell said: “It’s really frustrating. He has progressed really well since we came in. He is a player I really, really like.

“We were seeing really good levels from him and he is a different type of player to what we have got. He is a big, big player for us.

“So to lose him for the time he is going to be out is a massive blow.”

Moult is yet to start a game since his return on loan from Burton but is expected back in seven to 10 days after seeing a specialist about an ankle issue.

Hammell said: “He had a small, small procedure during the week but hopefully Louis is not going to be the same time frame as Joe.

“He’s been a miss for us. He has been brought in, obviously understanding that he can’t play 90 minutes every week and play 50 games a season. We understood that.

“We were bleeding him in and he was getting to a good level, so to have a setback has been disappointing. That seems to be the way it’s going just now. But hopefully we can see him back on the pitch soon and making an impact on match day.”

Moult’s absence has meant Kevin van Veen has had to plough a lone furrow in the centre-forward role and Hammell has been happy to get a free midweek ahead of Motherwell’s trip to face Dundee United – their seventh game in October.

Hammell, whose side have lost four in a row, said: “It’s mostly the same players we are asking to do the jobs as well. We had three tough games in six days and I think we felt that in the Aberdeen game, we looked a little jaded.

“It’s been a week where we have been able to control a little recovery but also spend the full week preparing for this game. We are fully aware of how big a game it is and it’s given us a full week to prepare.”

Motherwell lost 2-1 to Aberdeen in controversial circumstances after the video assistant referee dismissed stoppage-time penalty claims when Anthony Stewart pulled Ricki Lamie’s shirt and threw him to the ground before Matty Kennedy appeared to handle.

The club have been in contact with Scottish Football Association head of referees Crawford Allan to question why the incidents were not looked at more closely.

Hammell said: “Our problem with it, and it’s not us looking for excuses, was how quickly it was all dismissed. It was like 30 seconds, in total there were three incidents. ‘We have looked at it, the game’s finished’.

“In terms of the time frame to make these decisions, that wasn’t consistent with what we saw at the end of the game. Final whistle, game’s done.

“I think the club have been in dialogue but not myself, we can’t change it now.”