Hibs’ Dylan McGeouch set to return for St Johnstone semi

Dylan McGeouch has been in fine form for Hibs recently. Pic: Michael Gillen

Dylan McGeouch has been in fine form for Hibs recently. Pic: Michael Gillen

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Alan Stubbs has assured Hibs fans that midfielder Dylan McGeouch will be fit for Saturday’s Legue Cup semi-final against St Johnstone.

McGeouch had turned in a string of man-of-the-match performances in recent weeks, but the 23-year-old was missing as the Easter Road side beat St Mirren to go second in the Championship table.

But today Stubbs revealed the former Celtic player’s absence was no more than precautionary, that he’d been left out with the back-to-back trips to Tynecastle to face Saints and then arch-rivals Hearts in the Scottish Cup in mind. McGeouch returned to training with his team-mates yesterday and Stubbs said: “It was nothing too serious. Dylan felt a twinge around his pelvic area late on in the week and we didn’t want to take the risk. I didn’t want to take any chances with the games coming up, so I decided to leave him out.

“He will be okay for the weekend.”

However. McGeouch can’t be certain of an immediate recall to the starting line-up after Liam Henderson, having been left on the bench in Hibs previous two matches, returned to action in stunning style, capping an impressive performance with a free-kick which Stubbs rated as good as any you will see this season to open the scoring in the 3-1 win over the Buddies.

The head coach said: “Liam is a very talented player, but this is his first real introduction to first-team football week in, week out. There are times when he may drop out but only for him to develop as a football player.

“His body is still growing and there are times when he probably will need a rest and we felt he needed that. He’d have been disappointed, but it was only done in the best interests of Liam, nothing else.

“When he started against St Mirren, you could see that spring in his step again. People forget he is only 19 because he is a big boy but there lots of things that have to be taken into account. We are, though, delighted with him, what he is doing both on and off the pitch.”

Henderson also had to overcome an illness which “wiped him out”, putting the on-loan Celtic youngster out of action for almost a month but now, Stubbs believes, Hibs fans are again seeing the best of him.

He said: “Liam’s free-kick against St Mirren was as good as any you will see all season. As a boy you dream of doing it, but to actually deliver it with pace and power from that distance to beat Jamie Langfield in the top corner of the net was a fantastic bit of technical ability.

“We saw Liam do it against Livingston earlier in the season, although that was a different type of free-kick, but one that was also out of the top drawer.”

As impressive as Henderson has been, Stubbs believes he can continue to improve and knows the youngster is determined to do so. He said: “I don’t want to put too much pressure on him but I hope he can play at a very good level, the signs are good at this time.

“He’s one of those players who will give himself the best opportunity to be the very best he can be. He is very conscientious, he will do what he needs to improve. He needs to work out what he has to be good at and be even better, not just working on his weaknesses, but his strengths.”