Hibs head coach handed fitness boost for Aberdeen showdown

David Gray has recovered from a hamstring strain
David Gray has recovered from a hamstring strain
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Hibs manager Neil Lennon is set to have a near-full-strength squad to select from for Saturday’s Premiership encounter with joint-leaders Aberdeen, with long-term injury victims Darren McGregor and Liam Fontaine likely to be the only absentees

Captain David Gray is fit again and returns to contention for the visit of the Pittodrie side following a two-game absence with a hamstring strain sustained in the League Cup quarter-final victory over Livingston last month. Goalkeeper Ofir Marciano, who missed the recent 2-2 draw away to Celtic to observe the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, is also available for selection.

In addition, Hibs’ international contingent have returned to East Mains with a clean bill of health. John McGinn and Steven Whittaker were both involved with Scotland for their concluding World Cup qualifiers against Slovakia and Slovenia, although neither played any part. Vykintas Slivka and Deivydas Matulevicius both featured in Lithuania’s matches against Malta and England. All four are deemed fit for action this weekend, along with teenagers Ryan Porteous and Fraser Murray, who were on duty with Scotland Under-19s last week.

With Brandon Barker, who missed the recent win at Ross County with a back problem, having returned to the squad for the trip to Celtic Park, veteran centre-backs McGregor and Fontaine are likely to be the only two players out of the reckoning for Saturday’s eagerly-awaited Easter Road showdown.

McGregor harbours hopes of returning for the Edinburgh derby against Hearts on Tuesday week after almost two months on the sidelines with a knee problem which required surgery.

Fontaine is likely to be out until December after sustaining an ankle injury last month.