Tim Clancy was today due to begin his latest comeback attempt, playing for Hibs’ East of Scotland side against Eyemouth United at the club’s training centre at Ormiston.
The 29-year-old defender hasn’t tasted first-team action since April in what was an injury-ravaged season for him, a groin problem requiring surgery during the summer.
Hopes were high he’d be ready for a return to the Scottish Premiership when he played 65 minutes of a closed-doors match against Rangers in September but only a couple of days later he was forced to limp off having suffered another groin injury only 33 minutes into an East of Scotland game with Duns.
The Irish-born right back was pencilled in to play as an over-age player in the Under-20 match against his former club Kilmarnock 11 days ago but the match was postponed. And boss Terry Butcher, revealed he would have featured in the midweek game with Hamilton but for the artificial surface at New Douglas Park.
However, should Clancy come through this afternoon’s encounter with no ill-effects, he’ll turn out again on Tuesday night as Hibs’ Under-20 side take on Dunfermline at Livingston.
Butcher said: “Unfortunately, the astro pitch at Hamilton wasn’t for Tim having not played since September but he is raring to go. He’s desperate to play. Provided everything goes to plan he’ll take part in Tuesday’s game as well. It can be difficult for an experienced player going in with youngsters as it’s not what you are used to. But it’s a game. He hasn’t played for while and needs to get used to movement, anticipation, things like that so it will be good for him.”
Filling the right-back position has proved problematic for Hibs all season with Fraser Mullen, signed after being freed by Hearts, falling out of favour under Butcher’s predecessor Pat Fenlon, who turned to Alan Maybury and was then forced to play Lewis Stevenson out of position when the veteran defender was injured himself.
An imminent return for Clancy would step up competition for that particular berth while Butcher found the lengthy injury list which has blighted Hibs’ season so far easing somewhat in midweek.
Michael Nelson used the Under-20 game at Hamilton to prove his fitness, playing with a specially-fitted mask to protect the cheekbone which was shattered in a clash of heads with Celtic’s Amido Balde five weeks ago, earning himself an immediate recall to the first-team squad for today’s Scottish Cup tie against Ross County in Dingwall. Meanwhile, while teenage midfielder Sam Stanton impressed as he made his comeback in Lanarkshire following a hip knock.