Alex Harris out for Hibs until end of 2013

Alex Harris picked up an injury last week. Picture: SNS
Alex Harris picked up an injury last week. Picture: SNS
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Hibs have been dealt a major blow ahead of tomorrow’s derby against Capital rivals Hearts with the news that Alex Harris could be out of action until nearly Christmas.

The 18-year-old winger was crocked on the opening day of the season, the victim of a crude challenge from Motherwell defender Shaun Hutchinson as Pat Fenlon’s side lost 1-0, his ankle badly damaged as his opponent’s full weight came crashing down on him.

The 18-year-old winger was crocked on the opening day of the season, the victim of a crude challenge from Motherwell defender Shaun Hutchinson as Pat Fenlon’s side lost 1-0, his ankle badly damaged as his opponent’s full weight came crashing down on him.

An initial examination in hospital suggested there was no break but a second scan aimed at uncovering the full extent of his injury had to be postponed until the swelling subsided sufficiently. And it brought the bad news for Harris that there was, in fact, a small fracture which, according to boss Fenlon, will see him sidelined for a lengthy spell.

Fenlon said: “It’s a blow more for him than anything. He was getting into the first team and getting a run of games and was a real spark for us.

“He’s not in plaster at the moment, his ankle is still fairly badly swollen and he needs to speak to the surgeon and our own physio but he’s going to be out for at least two to three months. I’ve watched the incident [on video] back, his foot has been planted and Hutchinson’s weight has come down and done a bit of damage.”

While Harris is obviously out of the trip to Tynecastle, Fenlon’s options as Hibs seek to extend their unbeaten run against the Jambos to six matches have increased significantly with Rowan Vine and Jordon Forster now free of suspension while Northern Ireland defender Ryan McGivern, who missed not only the visit of Motherwell but the two Europa League matches against Malmo because of a knee injury, is also ready to return having played the entire 90 minutes of an Under-20 match earlier in the week.

And today Fenlon insisted his side were better prepared to go “toe-to-toe” with Hearts than they have ever been during his time in charge at Easter Road, Hibs now being spoken of by their near neighbours as “a big, strong team,” a description which has more traditionally applied to the Gorgie outfit in recent years.

Fenlon revealed he’d made a concious decision to recruit bigger, stronger players, bringing in the likes of Owain Tudur Jones, Vine, James Collins and Michael Nelson to give his side a greater physicality,

He said: “I think we matched Hearts a little bit in that last year. We stood toe-to-toe and stood up to be counted. Hearts were a big, strong team with some good players in fairness to them but you try to get a blend and a balance. It was one of the things we were concious of when we were recruiting in the summer was that at times, particularly when we went on a bit of a poor run over the winter months we were probably not physically a match for some of the other teams.

“When the pitches were not so good we struggled physically a bit so it was important to add the likes of Michael, Owain, James and Rowan, they are on the big side.”

Both Edinburgh teams go into the first derby of the season looking to kick-start their seasons having each lost 1-0 on the opening day, Hearts having been beaten by St Johnstone to remain 15 points off the rest following their punishment for going into adminstration, but Fenlon insisted he doesn’t expect the respective difficulties they have faced to influence tomorrow’s match,

He said: “It’s Hearts first game at home and they will be looking to pick up three points, a bit like us last week. But I don’t think it will be any different probably to most of the derbies I have been involved in so far. They are pretty frantic, a bit mad at times so I’d expect tomorrow to be pretty similar.

“Maybe in the last one a bit of football broke out but I think most of them are fairly gung-ho, hectic and in your face.”