Hibs have been dealt a hammer blow with the news that midfield powerhouse Isaiah Osbourne has been ruled out of the Easter Road outfit’s crucial festive programme, it emerged today.
But boss Pat Fenlon has his fingers crossed the 24-year-old former Aston Villa star won’t be out for six weeks as was initially feared.
Osbourne has suffered an abductor muscle injury which forced him to sit out last weekend’s controversial defeat at Aberdeen.
And is now he is set to miss Saturday’s clash with Dundee United, next Wednesday’s crunch match with fellow SPL strugglers Inverness Caley and the visit of Capital rivals Hearts on January 2.
Signed by ex-boss Colin Calderwood on a two-year deal in August, Birmingham-born Osbourne has become a firm favourite with Hibs fans, producing a string of impressive performances in the middle of the park with his hard-working style.
Today Fenlon said: “Isaiah is a good player who has done well, we missed him last weekend at Pittodrie.”
Although he conceded it had been feared Osbourne could be out for between four and six weeks, Fenlon was more optimistic after the player underwent a scan. He said: “That’s the longest period but we are hoping he’ll be back a bit quicker. However, we don’t want to bring him back too soon. He needs a break and some rest which he is getting at the moment.”
Meanwhile, Ivan Sproule could be in trouble with the SFA after the Hampden authority’s compliance officer Vincent Lunny launched an investigation into the winger’s comments on the performance of referee Craig Thomson at Pittodrie.
Thomson awarded the Dons a penalty – which produced the game’s only goal – for the Northern Ireland winger’s challenge on Aberdeen kid Peter Pawlett who was later sent off for a lunge at Hibs’ Lewis Stevenson.
Pawlett has now been hit with a two-match ban by Lunny for diving, a decision which Aberdeen have accepted, but they are contesting the red card.
Sproule was booked for dissent at the time but afterwards described Thomson’s handling of the game as “one of the poorest refereeing performances I’ve seen in a long time” and “a shambles.”
Lunny will now write to Sproule, who also called for Thomson to be demoted to the First Division as a punishment, seeking an explanation and to confirm the quotes attributed to him were accurate.
If Sproule is found guilty of rule 68 of the SPL’s Articles of Association – publicly criticising an official in such a way to indicate bias or incompetence – it would be up to the judicial panel to decide what penalty should be imposed with a ban among the options available.