Hibs pair James McPake and Tim Clancy have taken a major step towards a return to first team action by playing in the Easter Road club’s 3-1 victory over Rangers in a closed-doors friendly yesterday.
Skipper McPake featured for 80 minutes of the game at Murray Park while Tim Clancy played 65 minutes. But it was French signing Abdellah Zoubir who stole the limelight, the 21-year-old scoring twice with fellow new arrival Paul Heffernan wrapping up the win against a Rangers side which included David Templeton, Dean Shiels, Jon Daly and Nicky Law.
McPake hasn’t played since suffering a back spasm early in the second leg of Hibs’ Europa League debacle against Malmo while Clancy was last in action at the end of April, the former Kilmarnock and Motherwell defender having to undergo surgery on a groin problem.
Their absence and that of Ryan McGivern, who picked up a knee injury in the final pre-season friendly against Raith Rovers, was exacerbated by ankle injuries suffered by Paul Cairney and Alex Harris which stretched boss Pat Fenlon’s options, so much so he has been forced to play left-footed Lewis Stevenson at right back. But finally Fenlon’s injury worries are easing with McGivern having returned, McPake and Clancy getting much-needed game time, while Cairney has resumed training with the first-team squad.
McPake, Clancy and Zoubir could all be in Fenlon’s thoughts for Saturday’s East of Scotland match against Berwick Rangers reserves at Shielfield Park (kick-off 2.30pm) as he bids to improve the trio’s match fitness.
Of yesterday’s friendly, Fenlon said: “It was a good work-out. The new signings got some game time as did James and Tim plus some of the young players got a run-out.”