Hibs boss Alan Stubbs believes Liam Fontaine will be fit for Sunday’s Scottish Cup derby against Hearts – despite the centre half limping out of last night’s 1-0 victory over Morton after only 11 minutes.
Fontaine was seen holding his left thigh inside his own penalty area and, after a brief consultation with physio Kitty Mackinnon, the decision was made for him to be replaced by Paul Hanlon. Although there was an immediate concern that he would struggle to make the trip to Tynecastle, Stubbs moved to allay any such fear.
He said: “Liam’s okay – it’s nothing too serious.
“He knows his body but it’s not a hamstring pull. He felt tight and he stopped, which is great from our point of view.”
Other than that worry about Fontaine, Stubbs was delighted to win the match he described as the “most important of the week”, the Championship game at Cappielow sandwiched between last weekend’s win over St Johnstone – which steered Hibs into the final of the League Cup – and Sunday’s showdown in Gorgie.
Stubbs said: “This was the biggest banana skin.
“As far as some people were concerned, we had two games this week, Saturday against St Johnstone and Sunday against Hearts. But this was the most important because it’s a league game and we wanted to keep momentum going and not let the gap get any bigger. We have achieved that.”
The victory, which kept Hibs on the trail of table-topping Rangers – the Ibrox club eight points clear but having played a game more – came courtesy of Anthony Stokes’ second goal in as many games following his return to Easter Road, the on-loan Celtic striker cashing in on a Morton mistake two minutes into the second half.
And Stubbs hailed the contribution of the Republic of Ireland forward, who started his first match since August and lasted 75 minutes before being replaced by Chris Dagnall.
He said: “Anthony Stokes’ contribution was there for all to see.
“The seventy minutes or so will do a huge amount towards his fitness.
“He will get better and better for us – there is no denying that.”
On his team’s display overall, Stubbs admitted: “For the amount of possession we had, we were a bit over-elaborate at times.
“It should have been more comfortable. “It wasn’t but it was another win and a clean sheet.
“But I knew this was going to be a difficult game for us.
“We saw it against the other team, shall we say, that it’s not an easy place to come.
“Morton worked really hard and they close you and press you well. But we came away with the three points.”