RYAN DOW has revealed that he was convinced an opponent was to blame for the injury that has arrived at the "worst time".

It has been seven weeks since Athletic's influential vice-captain was stretchered from the field during February's Fife derby against Raith Rovers, having collapsed with nobody near him in the centre circle while Aaron Comrie was scoring the team's second goal in a 4-1 win.

Play was held up for several minutes as medical staff attended to the 29-year-old midfielder, who was found to have suffered a tendon tear near his calf after being sent for a scan by the club.

After six weeks in a protective moon boot and using crutches, both of which, combined with lockdown, left him housebound, Dow was set to have the boot removed last week.

Detailed discussions with Pars physio Jamie Sutton will determine the programme he will undergo and provide an indication as to when he might be back, with the former Dundee United and Ross County man admitting it could have been much worse.

Dow had appeared in all but one of Dunfermline's 20 matches up to and including the derby match and speaking to Press Sport about his injury, he explained: "It's not been the easiest but I'm sure there's people a lot worse off than me. It's hard because you're limited to what you can do; you can't even go out for a walk because you're in a boot and on crutches.

"When I was at Dundee United, I had a longer-term injury, but it was obviously a bit different. I was still able to walk about but, although you can't do that much, you're still in and around the boys.

"If this type of injury had happened before COVID, you might've been in two or three times a week, just to sit and watch training and be around the boys but, with everything that's going on, it doesn't make sense to come in with testing and stuff like that.

"There's never a good time to get an injury like this but I think it's the worst time when you're in a pandemic.

"You want to be playing but the next thing after that is you want to be in day-to-day. It has been tough but hopefully I'm at the end of this and I can start kicking on.

"When it happened, and we scored, I think it was Euan Murray who came running over to say, 'Are you alright'? I knew we'd scored and I was screaming at him for the ref because I thought someone had come down the back of me. I was wanting the centre half sent off.

"I kept saying it's a joke, he should be sent off, blah blah blah, and then I think it was one of the Raith Rovers players, Dan Armstrong, who said look, there was no-one near you. I was convinced the centre half had scraped his studs down the back of my leg and I was still convinced of that, even when I got stretchered off. I saw the video and there was no-one near me.

"Everyone had told me that but once I'd seen it and got my head around it, I thought this isn't going to be the best here because there was no-one around."

After a nervy two-day wait before getting the injury scanned, Dow received news that was "in-between", having known it wouldn't be a short lay-off on the horizon.

"It wasn't a full rupture but there was obviously a tear in the tendon," he continued.

"It was a strange place where I got it as well; it was where your tendon connects to your calf. It could've been a lot worse but it still wasn't the best. At least it wasn't a full rupture because I would probably be looking at an extra six- to 12 weeks on top of what I'm going to do if it was a full rupture.

"Normally, when people get a tendon tear, it's lower down nearer their heel, and mine was the opposite way.

"It was a waiting game but, once I got the news from the MRI, I just had to go and see the specialist and decide what course of action we were going to go through.

"I'll probably be nipping his head for timelines, and I'm sure I'll probably try to push him, and he'll be trying to push me back.

"The physio will know more than me. I'll try and push him every week to try and come back as soon as I can but because of the nature of the injury, I need to listen to him and keep going.

"It took a couple of days but, once my head was round it, it was getting through the first part of the rehab, which is in the boot. At least when you're in the second part of rehab you're back amongst the boys, you're in the gym and you're actually doing active stuff rather than just sitting on the couch."

When asked if it was one of the more difficult injuries in his career, Dow replied: "Probably. Like I said, I had an ongoing issue at Dundee United for probably the best part of two years that not a lot of people will know because I played through it.

"That was different because I had an operation at United, and then I was out for months, then I was back, and then I was out for months. It was more stop-start; this is more a halt because I can't do anything to start with.

"It's probably up there with the Dundee United one but that one I was probably my own worst enemy. I played when I shouldn't have played and, when you go out and cross the white line, everyone just thinks you're fit even though I wasn't."

Dow has had to watch his team-mates, like the fans, online in recent weeks, who will hope they can bounce back from losses at Dundee and Raith Rovers against leaders Hearts on Saturday.

"A player would be lying if they said it's easy watching it," he added. "Normally you're at the ground if you're injured and you're watching if from the stand but you're not even there; you're watching from your laptop. It's hard.

"I'm gutted I won't be involved. They're big games and that's what you want to be involved in, pushing at the right end of the table and going for the play-offs.

"It should be an exciting run-in so I'm just gutted I'm missing it."