David McGoldrick not ready to start, while Cameron Stewart is facing up to six weeks sidelined

David McGoldrick turns Nathan Clarke during the second half at Leyton Orient

David McGoldrick turns Nathan Clarke during the second half at Leyton Orient

Talismanic striker David McGoldrick is not ready to start in Saturday’s Championship opener against Fulham at Portman Road, while summer signing Cameron Stewart could be out for up to six weeks with a fractured jaw.

McGoldrick scored 16 goals before his season was ended by a cruciate knee ligament injury in mid-February. He spent a week seeing a specialist in Philadelphia during the close season and has been eased back into action of late, coming on as a substitute in friendly matches at Southend and Leyton Orient.

The front man looked decidedly ring-rusty during his brief cameo on a poor Roots Hall playing surface last Tuesday, but showed glimpses of his star quality at Brisbane Road at the weekend after coming on at half-time. There was one sublime outside of the boot pass up the line and a trademark body swerve in the box which left a defender on their backside.

Asked if the 26-year-old was near to starting a game, McCarthy replied: “No. It’s pre-season. As much as that was competitive, it’s not Fulham at home, it’s not Reading away. Let’s see how he feels tomorrow and beyond. He certainly makes a difference playing for us.

“I think he was disappointed to be coming off (in the 88th minute, having come on at the break), but I just said ‘you’ve done enough’.” Meanwhile, summer signing Cameron Stewart is facing up to six weeks on the sidelines after fracturing his jaw in Saturday’s game.

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“Cameron was caught by an arm late on in the game on Saturday and the scan has shown that he has fractured his jaw,” Blues physio Matt Byard told the club site.

“He will have surgery in the morning and we will see where we stand from there but for that type of injury, you are looking at between four to six weeks on the sidelines.”

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Stewart joined the Blues on a free transfer in July having been released by Hull City after a proposed switch to his former loan side Leeds broke down.

In addition to Stewart, fellow winger Stephen Hunt was absent for all Town’s pre-season games with a calf injury and will also miss Saturday’s televised season opener at home to newly-relegated Fulham (5.15pm).

McCarthy has intimated that Jay Tabb will start on the left of midfield on Saturday after Alex Henshall conceded a spot-kick late on against Orient.

Centre-back Tommy Smith and right-winger Paul Anderson were left out of the team at Brisbane Road due to groin and hamstring injuries respectively but McCarthy says he expects them to be okay for the weekend.

Jonathan Parr, the versatile full-back snapped up following his release by Crystal Palace, will also be assessed this week after he limped off at the weekend with a sore groin.

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