Hibs’ Duncan Watmore winning derby fitness battle

Duncan Watmore scored on his last Hibs appearance against Partick. Pic: Robert Perry
Duncan Watmore scored on his last Hibs appearance against Partick. Pic: Robert Perry
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Hibs winger Duncan Watmore is winning his fight to be fit for Sunday’s Edinburgh derby and Easter Road boss Terry Butcher is tipping the winger to light up Tynecastle.

The on-loan Sunderland winger was forced to miss last weekend’s defeat by St Johnstone, which consigned Hibs to the bottom six for a fourth successive season, after suffering a “hefty whack” in training on the same spot he’d suffered bone bruising in his foot on his debut against Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup.

The original injury had forced Watmore to sit out four matches, but he’d bounced back to claim his first Hibs goal in the recent 3-1 defeat against Partick Thistle, only to be ruled out for the trip to McDiarmid Park.

But now Watmore is desperate to face Hearts and, according to Butcher, he has a “good chance” of being on the team coach which heads to Gorgie on Sunday.

The Hibs boss said: “Duncan took a whack on the site of the original injury. It was sore but he wanted to play but we have to protect him and the best thing was to leave him out.

“He wants to sample that derby-day atmosphere, having heard all about it from the other players, and he has a good chance. The injury has settled down a bit.”

Although he’s only played three times for Hibs since arriving in Edinburgh during the January transfer window, Watmore has become a firm favourite with the Easter Road support.

The 20-year-old has been pinpointed by opposition teams as a major threat with his pace and directness and Butcher believes he can fire up the 3500 Hibs fans who will be at Tynecastle.

He said: “Duncan does cause teams problems - he can go past people and take the ball into the heart of the opposition’s defence.

“He’s probably being targeted by other teams. They’re looking to quickly close him down, not just with one or two players but three and four at times.”

Recalling the scenes which followed Hibs’ win over Hearts at Easter Road in his first derby in charge – a match watched by more than 20,000 – Butcher revealed that he’s looking forward to seeing the away end at Tynecastle packed out by Hibs fans having enjoyed the backing of only a few hundred on previous trips to Gorgie when managing Motherwell and Inverness Caley.

He said: “It’s going to be a lot different for me. It’s going to be a great occasion, a match to be savoured.”