Hibs’ prospects for the second half of the season have been given a boost by the return of Alex Harris, boss Terry Butcher revealing the teenage winger is in his squad for tonight’s clash with Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
Harris has been out of action since the opening day of the season when he suffered a broken bone in a challenge from Shaun Hutchinson which earned the Motherwell defender a yellow card, the 18-year-old requiring surgery to insert a pin to help the fracture heal.
While it is unlikely Harris will start tonight’s match, Butcher insisted he wasn’t making the journey simply for the sake of it, revealing: “He’s available to play.”
The manager was clearly delighted at the thought of having Harris back in action. “We don’t have anyone like him,” said Butcher. “Alex can do different things to any other player in the squad. He’s always been one that excites you. Look at the semi-final last year and the way he went about his work.
“What he can do is exciting and it’s good to have him back. He’s been itching to play and we’ve tried to protect him a bit but he is fine, 100 per cent and raring to go. We would have liked to have got him some game time but that’s not been possible with the Under-20s away in Turkey but he’s in the squad.”
Butcher sees Harris playing a major role as Hibs bid not only to maintain their place in the upper half of the Scottish Premiership table, but to climb even further. He said: “I like to play with wide men who have good pace, although I have to say Lewis Stevenson and Paul Cairney have been tremendous so far.
“They have played in every game and done very well. It’s good to see Alex in the squad, but he has competition to get back into the team when the other boys are doing so well.”
Nevertheless, Butcher described Harris’ return as “like a new signing,” while revealing he’s hoping that the second fortnight of the January transfer window will see his squad strengthened by new arrivals.
Urging Hibs fans to be patient, he said: “It’s been frustrating because you do a lot of work, Steve Marsella [his chief scout] in particular, speaking to people, managers, coaches and agents. Things are set up and are in place, then the manager is bumped and you are back to square one because the new manager wants to assess his squad and that takes another three or four weeks.”