COLIN CALDERWOOD today assured Hibs fans Ivan Sproule will be fit for Wednesday’s Scottish Communities League Cup clash with Celtic after the flying winger missed the Easter Road outfit’s victory over St Mirren.
Sproule failed to make the squad for the trip to Paisley, raising fears he’d also sit out the quarter-final tie, but Calderwood revealed the Northern Ireland star’s absence was purely precautionary.
The Hibs boss explained that Sproule, whose first and last goals during his initial spell at Hibs came in wins over Celtic, had picked up a couple of knocks in the defeat by Motherwell, the first in an early collision with Fir Park goalkeeper Darren Randolph.
Although the 30-year-old completed the match he was still feeling the after-effects as Calderwood’s squad prepared for Saturday’s game and the decision was taken to leave him out. Calderwood explained that Sproule could have played in the 3-2 win but would have been less than 100 per cent fit and with back-to-back matches against Celtic – Hibs travel to Parkhead on SPL business on Saturday – there was the obvious risk of a knock-on effect.
Now Calderwood believes that, with those extra few days’ rest and treatment, Sproule will be ready to face Neil Lennon’s team who suffered further injury problems of their own during yesterday’s 2-1 win over Aberdeen, with defender Glenn Loovens and striker Mohamed Bangura facing scans today on hamstring and knee problems respectively.
Meanwhile, on-loan Wolves striker Leigh Griffiths admitted to a feeling of relief after his first two goals for Hibs, either side of Sean O’Hanlon’s first for the Edinburgh club against the Saints, ended an eight-match drought in a green-and-white shirt.
The lifelong Hibs fan said: “There had been a bit pressure on me. Garry O’Connor has been scoring near enough every match so the pressure was on me and Junior Agogo to score as well.
“I’m happy to have taken a bit of the pressure off Garry and hopefully I can get a couple more.
“It was what I needed, I started a few games but was then left on the bench because Junior and Garry were playing well.”
Meanwhile, Hibs’ Under-19 side claimed a 4-0 win over Dunfermline with Dean Horribine scoring twice with Danny Handling and David Gold also on the scoresheet. The team’s SFA Youth Cup third-round tie against Hearts will take place at Easter Road on Saturday, November 12, with a 1pm kick-off.