Kevin Thomson is confident that Hibs’ midfield injury issues won’t derail their Championship title bid.
Scotland internationalist John McGinn is out until the new year after undergoing an operation to deal with an ankle problem, while it remains to be seen how long Fraser Fyvie, who is a major doubt for this Friday’s top-of-the-table clash away to Dundee United due to a groin problem, will be sidelined.
In addition, James Keatings, who has been utilised in an attacking midfield role this season, is unlikely to be fit enough to return on Friday, while Dylan McGeouch, who should be available for the trip to Tannadice, is still to prove he has fully recovered from the hamstring problem which has plagued him this season. Neil Lennon could find himself heading to Tayside with Marvin Bartley and Andrew Shinnie as the only fully-fit senior central midfielders at his disposal, although the head coach also has the option of fielding academy prospect Scott Martin or moving centre-back Paul Hanlon forward if McGeouch is not deemed ready to start.
Former midfielder Thomson was part of the Hibs squad in the second half of last season and is confident they have the required resources to get through the festive period with minimal damage to their title hopes.
“John would be a big miss to any team because he is a powerhouse who drives the team on, but I think Hibs will be able to cope,” said Thomson. “The Fyvie situation makes it that bit harder because it’s never ideal to lose two good players in the same position, but that’s why you have a squad. It’s potentially a chance for Dylan to step up and remind people how good he is. If he’s fully fit, then they won’t miss the others because, in my opinion, he’s as good as anyone at the club. He’s a terrific player. He just needs that wee bit of luck to get a run in the team, so hopefully that happens this time round.
“Paul Hanlon could easily sit in there if need be. It’s not his natural position but you could rely on him to give you a performance. The only problem with having him in there is that he would probably be playing alongside Marv and neither of them are naturally attacking. Marv does most of his best work defensively but he’s a big powerful boy and he’ll relish the challenge of trying to push the team on in John’s absence.”
Thomson, who recently hung up his boots to focus on starting up his own football academy, believes this could also represent a good chance for Martin, the highly-regarded 19-year-old, to establish himself. “When I was a teenager, I got my opportunity after Grant Brebner failed a fitness test,” recalled Thomson. “That was my opportunity to shine and I didn’t look back, so you never know, this could be the opportunity Scott has been waiting for.”