Hibs midfielder Danny Handling is set to step up his comeback bid by returning to light training next week.
The 22-year-old has been sidelined since sustaining damage to cartilage in his knee during a training session shortly after the home leg of the Europa League tie with Brondby in July.
The initial prognosis was that Handling would be ready to return in September, but his recovery has not gone as quickly as forecast.
The academy graduate hasn’t played a competitive first-team game for 19 months after cruciate ligament damage sidelined him for the bulk of last season. However, head coach Neil Lennon reported that there is now “light at the end of the tunnel”, with an imminent return to training paving the way for the possibility of game time next month.
“There’s talk of Danny possibly getting back out on the grass next week to do some rehabilitation work with the ball,” Lennon told the Evening News. “That’ll be a sight for sore eyes because he’s had a really tough time. It’s been frustrating for him but he’s worked really hard in the gym and hopefully we’re seeing a bit light at the end of the tunnel for him.”
Lennon is also encouraged by the progress of James Keatings, who has been absent since suffering a partial tear to his medial ligament in the win over Dunfermline three weeks ago.
“James we’re hoping will be [training] by the end of the month which is a little bit quicker than was forecasted,” he said. “They’ll both be itching to get back into it because they don’t want to miss out on what they are seeing at the minute. Everybody wants a bit of it which is very pleasing from my point of view.”