Hibs boss Alan Stubbs today revealed Marvin Bartley will be handed an Easter Road debut in Saturday’s League Cup clash with Montrose and that his other summer signings James Keatings and Dan Carmichael won’t be far behind.
Supporters have been desperate to see the new arrivals in action but Keatings (hamstring) and Carmichael (groin) have been sidelined through injury, while midfield enforcer Bartley admitted he was playing catch-up in terms of fitness following his move from Leyton Orient.
Stubbs, however, has insisted he’s been more concerned to ensure the trio are ready for the beginning of the new Championship campaign a week on Saturday, with promotion again the over-riding priority for the Capital club.
The head coach, who also has Farid El Alagui and Martin Boyle recuperating from knee operations, said: “We have players who are very close to coming back, but the most important thing is they return for the first league game of the season against Dumbarton and I am confident that is going to be the case.
“Marvin will train this week and we’ll look to have him play some part of the game on Saturday. I know the supporters are anxious to see them play – so am I. When new players arrive fans want to see how they look in the team which is only natural and the fact they’ve not been able to feature yet will have been a disappointment just as much for the players as the supporters.
“They have been desperate to get out there, but James and Dan have had little niggly injuries, so we’ve had to be cautious. James was looking really sharp in exciting in training, but the injury has put him back a little. Dan has trained over the last four or five days and is doing really well.”
El Alagui, according to Stubbs, is on schedule, the target having always been an August return, although the head coach is hoping that will be in the earlier part of the month rather than later, while Boyle has indicated he’s aiming to be back against Dumbarton.
Stubbs, however, described that target as “probably a bit ambitious”, before adding: “It shows how desperate he is to get back, but he’s been out a long time and you always run the risk of bringing them back too soon, having them break down and then be out for even longer.
“The players know their bodies better than anyone. They will indicate to us when they are ready and I have every faith in my fitness and medical department to make sure they are ready and raring to go.”