Hibs skipper James McPake is confident of returning for Sunday’s SPL clash with Inverness Caley having been forced to sit out the defeat by Dundee United with a back problem.
McPake was close to making the United match despite his back having stiffened up following the derby at Tynecastle the previous weekend and boss Pat Fenlon admitted his side had missed the on-loan Coventry City defender as they went down to goals from Johnny Russell and Gary Mackay-Steven, not least for his leadership qualities as he conceded his players lost their way against United after going behind. He said: “James is a big player for us, he is obviously a bit of a leader for us as well and when it goes against you he is the type of player you need in your team.”
With McPake having fractured three bones in his spine at the start of last year, an injury which kept him out of action for six months, there was no way Hibs were going to take any chances with his fitness. Now, though, McPake believes he’ll be ready for the long journey to Inverness on Sunday. He said: “I was gutted to miss out. I was close to making it and all going well I’ll be back this week.”
The return of McPake would be an obvious boost for Hibs with every match vital between now and the end of the season as they scrap with Dunfermline to avoid relegation from the SPL. The Pars cut Hibs’ advantage to just three points with a battling draw against St Mirren at the weekend in new boss Jim Jefferies’ first match in charge at East End Park but Fenlon will be hoping Hibs can repeat their victory on the banks of the Moray Firth earlier in the season 24 hours after Dunfermline face Euro-spot chasing United, who have five successive league wins.