Darren McGregor eyes Hibs return in derby – but won’t take any risks

Darren McGregor is remaining positive as he battles back to fitness
Darren McGregor is remaining positive as he battles back to fitness
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Crocked Hibs defender Darren McGregor today admitted he’s desperate to play in the first Edinburgh derby of the season but insisted he won’t let his heart rule his head.

McGregor has pencilled in the visit of Hearts on Tuesday, October 24, as his earliest possible comeback date as he recovers from knee surgery but, while his rehabilitation programme is bang on target, he won’t let himself be rushed back into action. The 32-year-old suffered cartilage damage in his left knee as Hibs faced Dundee at Dens Park at the end of August, forced to limp out of the game at half-time and his currently undergoing a personalised recovery programme at the club’s East Mains training centre.

Although he was told by a specialist he could be out for as long as ten weeks, McGregor revealed he believes that is a touch pessimistic, claiming the type of injury he sustained can be overcome in as little as six weeks. He said: “I’m halfway through my fourth week and I feel great. The injury I have is usually six to ten weeks and I keep looking at the derby – that would be bang on six weeks. Nathan Spring [Hibs head of sports medicine and science] and his department are top-notch and have structured a full programme around me.

“I feel great just now and if I feel good I will be tapping on his door to ask what he thinks. But I am not wanting to rush. I’m not going to lie, it’s frustrating being out particularly at the moment with so many big games coming up – Aberdeen at Easter Road, Celtic in the semi-final of the Betfred Cup and then the derby.

“However, I won’t be rushing back for the sake of it. The boys are doing well, they went to Ross County and won and kept a clean sheet before coming away from Celtic Park with a draw. At the moment, in the midst of my rehab, I’m concentrating on working hard, building the muscles around the knee and making it stronger.”

McGregor, who spent virtually two years out after suffering back-to-back ruptured anterior cruciate ligaments while playing with St Mirren, admitted those dark days are helping him through his current injury. He said: “I know what it is like to get down in the doldrums but this time I have been really positive, working hard and knowing the carrot is getting back playing again.

“I’ve had a great run, it’s been five years since my last injury and I’ve played on average 45 games a season so I have done well. It’s one of those things, but I have great people around me. I have a programme that’s specific to me and I have been in working on it five or six days a week so hopefully when I do come back I will be fitter and stronger.”