Hibs star Michael Nelson feared another cheek injury

Man in the mask: Michael Nelson
Man in the mask: Michael Nelson
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Hibs star Michael Nelson today revealed how he feared he had shattered his cheekbone again only seconds into his comeback match against Partick Thistle.

The big defender felt a numbness during Saturday’s 1-1 draw as he took a knock on the exact same spot where Celtic striker Amido Balde’s head had crashed into his face almost two months ago, a collision which smashed three bones and required an operation in which two plates were inserted.

Nelson returned to action as a late substitute and wearing a protective face mask as Hibs snatched a last-gasp equaliser through James Collins to take a point from the visit of the Jags in new boss Terry Butcher’s first game in charge at Easter Road, but almost immediately the 33-year-old believed he was once again heading for hospital.

He said: “I’d only been on for a minute or two when I took a bang on the side of my face as I spun to have a shot in their box. When I got up, the mask had been dislodged from my face and I had a little bit of numbness down that side and I thought ‘I have done it again’ if I’m being honest.

“I’d had three fractures, two of them plated and I think they are quite stable, but the other one they could not get to, so it had to heal itself and it was the one that wasn’t plated I took the knock on, so I was a bit concerned at first until the feeling came back.

“Thankfully, though, it was just the initial knock and within ten to 20 seconds it had gone and everything felt it was in the same place, so the mask obviously did its job.”

Meanwhile, Nelson’s fellow defender James McPake will today undergo surgery which, it is hoped, will finally cure the back problems which have plagued him for months and restricted him to just six appearances this season, the last of which ended in a red card in the League Cup clash with Hearts.

The 29-year-old, who fractured his back almost three years ago while playing for Coventry City, had been due to have the operation at the end of last season but it was felt that rest over the summer would do the trick but that didn’t prove to be the case. Although Butcher hasn’t put a timescale on McPake’s return it is hoped he’ll be back in

action before the end of the season with the former Livingston player tweeting: “I’ll be back stronger than ever in the near future.”