Hibs boss Pat Fenlon today raised the hope that top scorer Garry O’Connor could be back for Saturday’s crunch SPL clash with basement outfit Dunfermline.
But now the Easter Road manager is more optimistic O’Connor, who sat out the narrow 3-2 William Hill Scottish Cup victory over Second Division leaders Cowdenbeath, may be fit enough to make the trip across the Forth. The presence of O’Connor, who has claimed 11 goals so far this season, would be an enormous boost for the Hibees who remain the lowest scoring team in the SPL.
“Garry has made a big improvement and we’ll see how he is over the next few days,” said Fenlon. However, one factor the Irishman will have to take into account is that O’Connor’s badly bruised toe has meant training has been severely restricted.
Although goalkeeper Graham Stack will again be out with the calf injury sustained in the derby, as will Ian Murray after the skipper underwent surgery on a groin injury, Fenlon has his fingers crossed midfield powerhouse Isaiah Osbourne could also face Dunfermline.
An abductor muscle problem has kept the former Aston Villa star out of Hibs’ last five matches, but he has resumed training and, should there be no setback, he’ll be in contention.
In O’Connor’s absence at Central Park, both Leigh Griffiths and Fenlon’s first signing, Eoin Doyle, scored as did David Wotherspoon as Hibs stormed back from losing a goal to Cowdenbeath’s Greig Stewart after only 15 seconds. But Hibs were left hanging on somewhat following a second strike from the Blue Brazil’s Jon Robertson.
Fenlon, though, was pleased with what he had seen from Griffiths and the former Sligo Rovers hitman. He said: “I thought Eoin did well, he needs a bit of sharpness as he hasn’t played a lot of matches but I thought he and Leigh linked up well.”
Fenlon was even happier with the character shown by his players.
He said: “Conceding the early goal knocked us back a bit but the players showed great character to get on the front foot. I thought we played some good stuff at times and should have scored a few more goals before half-time to make ourselves comfortable but we got a bit nervous and dropped a bit deeper. The conditions made it hard for us to get out.
“Everyone was writing us off so we are delighted to have got through.”
Meanwhile, Hibs’ Under-19 side beat Third Division Alloa Athletic 5-1 at Recreation Park, Ross Caldwell scoring a double while Danny Handling, David Gold and Alex Harris were also on the scoresheet.