Crocked Hibs star Michael Hart will begin his latest comeback bid when he plays for the first time in almost three months tomorrow.
The 31-year-old has been pencilled in to face Rangers in a closed-doors match at the Ibrox club’s Murray Park training centre having not featured at all in the SPL this season.
The former Aberdeen and Livingston right back has been hit by a succession of injuries since joining the Easter Road club from Preston North End in the summer of last year, those problems limiting him to just 20 starts in a green and white jersey.
And his woes have continued into this campaign with Hart hobbling out of the pre-season friendly against Livingston with an ankle knock, an injury which saw him miss the start of the season.
His luck didn’t change as he started the challenge match against English Premier League outfit Sunderland at the beginning of August. Hart, who last tasted SPL action seven months ago, lasting just five minutes on that occasion. He later revealed he’d felt something “pop” in his groin, the diagnosis being he’d torn cartilages off the bone in that area. However, specialists decided no surgery was necessary, prescribing rest to allow the cartilages to knit together again.
While Hart’s rehabilitation has been slow, he is now at the stage where he is ready for action and it’s likely he’ll be given 45 minutes tomorrow in the next step of his comeback plan.
Hart’s hopefully imminent return will be good news for boss Colin Calderwood who has, as did his predecessor John Hughes, found the right back area something of a problem with on-loan Celtic youngster Richie Towell, David Wotherspoon and Victor Palsson having all been called upon to fill that position.
And Calderwood has received a further boost with Matt Thornhill, another who hasn’t enjoyed the best of luck through injury, making a welcome return as he got the last 12 minutes in Saturday’s no-scoring draw against Celtic. Medial ligament damage brought last season to a premature halt for Thornhill after he became Calderwood’s first signing when he moved from Nottingham Forest in January, but he’s been missing again since August after suffering a groin injury.
Sean Welsh, too, is ready for action, the young midfielder having been on the bench for the win over St Mirren and again at the weekend after suffering a broken cheekbone and subsequent complications in a training ground incident with team-mate Martin Scott.
Meanwhile, skipper Ian Murray has undergone a scan on the groin injury which forced him out of the trip to Glasgow but it is hoped he’ll be ready to face Dunfermline this weekend.