Hibs kid Danny Handling is eyeing a a return to action against Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic next weekend after being out of action for five weeks with an ankle injury.
The teenager suffered a bruised bone in his right ankle as Pat Fenlon’s side drew 0-0 with Ross County, the injury cutting short his joy at being named in the Scotland Under-21 squad for the first time as he was forced to pull out of their European Championship qualifying clash with the Netherlands.
But after making his comeback as Hibs Under-21s defeated Dundee United in midweek, the 19-year-old is hoping to hone his match fitness in tomorrow’s East of Scotland qualifying league game against Craigroyston and Tuesday’s Under-20 match with Inverness Caley in the hope of facing the champions next Saturday.
Handling played 65 minutes of the midweek game against United, setting up both his side’s goals for Jason Cummings and Euan Smith as the young Hibees continue to be neck-and-neck with Hamilton at the top of the table.
Today, Handling admitted the run-out with the youngsters had been just what he needed, saying: “Playing well on Tuesday night has given my confidence a boost. I’d liked to have scored myself but having played a part in both goals was just as good as they turned out to be what we needed to win the game.
“The match went well and I didn’t feel any problem with my ankle at all. Now that I have the game under my belt I’m looking to get my fitness levels back up to what they were before, and that can only happen through playing games.
“I’m hoping to be fit again for the Celtic game after the international break, but whether I am involved or not is up to the gaffer. I’m just going to keep working hard in training and keep going about things the right way.”
And Handling revealed how he breathed a sigh of relief on discovering his injury wasn’t even more serious. He said: “At first we all thought it was only going to be a week or two out but it started to get worse. I had to go for an MRI scan to make sure that there was no further damage to my ankle. Thankfully there wasn’t.”