Full fitness key to Kevin Thomson’s Hibs return

Kevin Thomson, right, has impressed the Hibs manager Terry Butcher this week in training. Pic: Ian Georgeson

Kevin Thomson, right, has impressed the Hibs manager Terry Butcher this week in training. Pic: Ian Georgeson

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Terry Butcher today insisted Kevin Thomson can play his part in Hibs’ push for a top six finish – once the midfielder is fully fit.

The 29-year-old, who is recovering from a calf injury, hasn’t featured for the Easter Road outfit for more than two months. As a result, his absence led to speculation that he’d be allowed to leave during the January transfer window.

However, Thomson has now returned to action, playing for Hibs Under-20 side against Dundee United and following that up by featuring in an eight-goal romp against Burntisland Shipyard in the East of Scotland League, the player stressing his determination to impress Butcher sufficiently to earn a first team recall.

The former Scotland international will have to wait a little longer to get back into the first team, though, with Butcher confirming the Evening News’ report yesterday that Thomson won’t play in tomorrow’s crucial Scottish Premiership clash with Motherwell despite the fact Hibs will be without four midfielders. Scott Robertson, Owain Tudur Jones and Duncan Watmore are all injured, while Tom Taiwo is suspended following his red card in the 4-1 defeat by United.

Butcher said: “Kevin is not quite at that level yet, but he is getting there. He asked to play in the East of Scotland game. They won 8-0 and it came off pretty comfortably for him. I wanted him to train hard this week which he has done.

“The games are coming up thick and fast and I want him to play. We want him to get to a level of fitness where he can push himself forward to play and I am looking forward to that.”

Butcher revealed Paul Hanlon will play against Motherwell, a match which is vital to Hibs’ aspirations of finishing in the top six of the Premiership for the first time in four seasons as they trail sixth-placed St Johnstone by three points with six matches left before the split.

Hanlon was forced to quit the United match suffering from double vision, but the Hibs manager said: “Paul took a bang on the head, but he is fine. The doctor wanted him to wait until yesterday to train, but he wanted to train on Tuesday.”

Butcher will finalise his team for tomorrow after assessing the fitness of Ryan McGivern following his return from Northern Ireland’s 0-0 draw in Cyprus, although Sam Stanton, Danny Handling and Jason Cummings all reported back from international duty with Scotland’s Under-21 and Under-19 teams unscathed.

As such, Butcher admitted, it doesn’t give him much time to prepare his side for such an important match. He said: “We’ll only have an hour of preparation time, but we only had that long the Friday before we beat Ross County, so we just get on with it.”