Hibs hit with double blow for cup tie

Graham Stack

Graham Stack

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Struggling Hibs were today facing a double hammer blow ahead of Saturday’s Scottish Cup clash against Second Division leaders Cowdenbeath with both skipper Ian Murray and goalkeeper Graham Stack ruled out of the tie.

Murray was due to undergo surgery in Leicester today in an operation to cure the ongoing groin problem which has troubled him in recent weeks.

Although he played the full 90 minutes of Monday’s derby defeat by Hearts, Murray missed the entire November programme, returning only on Christmas Eve for the final couple of minutes of the SPL match against Dundee United and the closing stages of the game with Inverness Caley a few days later.

It is feared the 30-year-old could be out of action for up to a month as he recovers.

Stack, who has been beset by injury problems during his time at Easter Road, picked up a calf problem in the derby and while he has been receiving intensive treatment a question mark over his fitness for Central Park has arisen.

With a vital SPL match against relegation rivals Dunfermline to follow seven days later, boss Pat Fenlon won’t be keen to take any risks with Stack, opening the way for Mark Brown to play his first match of the Irishman’s reign.

Brown has been confined to appearances in the Scottish Communities’ League Cup this season, all those games coming under former manager Colin Calderwood.

And while he’d welcome a return to action, Stack’s absence will leave Fenlon with a headache over a substitute goalkeeper. Calum Antell’s loan spell with East Stirling has been extended to the end of the season, leaving Under-19 goalkeeper Paul Grant as the most likely candidate for a seat on the bench.