Hibs were today sweating over the fitness of three key players for the Premiership play-off semi-finals – even though the first leg is still more than a fortnight away.
Injuries to Farid El Alagui, Jordon Forster and Martin Boyle are all giving head coach Alan Stubbs cause for concern ahead of the clash away to either Queen of the South or Rangers on Wednesday, May 20, with the latter pair both picking up knocks in last Saturday’s 3-0 win over Falkirk.
Forster had to be stretchered to the dressing-room after landing heavily following an aerial duel with Falkirk defender Liam Dick only a minute into the second half, while on-loan Dundee player Boyle had to be replaced for the final 19 minutes after coming off second best in a challenge with Tom Taiwo.
Moreover, ex-Falkirk star El Alagui, who recently returned to action following seven months out after rupturing his Achilles tendon, didn’t feature at all in the game as he nursed a knee injury.
Initially Stubbs had indicated that Boyle’s problem appeared to be nothing too serious, with Forster’s injury being the greater worry after he appeared to go over on his ankle, but today the Hibs boss admitted Boyle appeared to have sustained knee ligament damage with the club, again, awaiting a full diagnosis.
“We are going through the necessary checks [with Forster],” said Stubbs. “We want to rule things out and once the swelling goes down we’ll have a better idea. We’ll find out after he’s had a scan, but it looks as if he may have strained his ligaments.
“Martin is a little bit more serious than we thought. He may have tweaked the ligaments in his knee, but we’ll have to wait and see.
“I don’t think they’ll have too much training time in before the next game.”
The absence at the weekend of El Alagui, who suffered a serious knee injury while at Brentford, left the 3500 Hibs fans who had travelled to Falkirk puzzled, but Stubbs explained: “Farid has an ongoing injury that we have to manage.
“It’s nothing new or fresh, Unfortunately it just rumbled a little bit and we took the chance to give him a rest. He has had a little bit of swelling which we had to let settle down. He’s been to see the specialist, he’s doing okay and hopefully he will be involved in the play-offs.”
Stubbs declared himself “absolutely delighted” for Hibs midfielder Scott Allan after he picked up the PFA Scotland Championship player of the year award ahead of Hearts trio Alim Ozturk, Jamie Walker and Morgaro Gomis.
“It doesn’t get any better – the biggest accolade any footballer can get is that recognition from your fellow professionals,” said Stubbs. There was stiff competition. You could have made a case for all of them, but I think it was the right decision.”