Abdellah Zoubir puts himself back in Hibs contention

Abdellah Zoubir, left, did his chances of a Hibs recall no harm with a double on Under-20s duty. Pic: Ian Georgeson

Abdellah Zoubir, left, did his chances of a Hibs recall no harm with a double on Under-20s duty. Pic: Ian Georgeson

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Abdellah Zoubir boosted his chances of a return to the Hibs first team as it emerged that his fellow winger Alex Harris is poised to be removed from the firing line.

Frenchman Zoubir has not featured in the match-day squad for any of Hibs’ last six games, with the on-loan Istres player’s last appearance coming as a substitute in the Scottish Cup defeat by Raith Rovers on February 8.

The 22-year-old enhanced his hopes of getting back into Terry Butcher’s plans last night, however, when he scored a double for Hibs Under 20s in their 3-1 win over St Johnstone in Perth.

Zoubir was joined in last night’s line-up by Harris, who is set for a period away from the demands of the first team as he seeks to recover his form following a lengthy injury lay-off.

The highly-rated teenager was fast-tracked back into the team in January after five months out with a broken ankle, but after failing to replicate the swashbuckling displays he managed when bursting on to the scene a year ago, Harris has been absent from the match-day squad for Hibs’ last two games.

Butcher revealed he is set to give the 19-year-old some time out of the spotlight to allow the player to try and recover his form and confidence, and revealed that it might be next season before he enjoys another extended run in the team.

“We’ve got to build him back up, his confidence is not high,” said the manager. “I think he’s found it difficult in the first team, there’s no doubt about that, so we’ve probably got to take him back and just re-introduce him a lot more gently and make sure that we’ll see the benefit of that next season, rather than at the end of this one. It’s always hard. You come back into the first team straight away, with the adrenalin pumping, doing this and doing that. But you can soon realise you are not quite up to sharpness or the pace of the game. That takes a bit of time to adjust to.

“So, his time will come next season, after a good pre-season with us. For me, you’ve got to earn the right of being in the first-team squad and obviously earn the right to be in the team, and that doesn’t come lightly. Yes, we are looking for wins, but players still need to work hard to get into the squad.”