Pat Fenlon: Hibs can cover midfield losses

Doubt: Scott Roberston. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Doubt: Scott Roberston. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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HIBS manager Pat Fenlon today insisted that he has ample cover even though he faces the possibility of being without five midfielders for tomorrow’s trip to Kilmarnock.

The Easter Road club’s appeal against Kevin Thomson’s red card in last weekend’s Dundee United game was dismissed by the SFA yesterday, ruling him out for the next two matches.

Paul Cairney and Alex Harris were already long-term absentees, and Fenlon revealed that Liam Craig and Scott Robertson have both been struggling with injury this week.

However, the manager is confident that even if the duo aren’t fit enough to start tomorrow’s Rugby Park encounter, he has enough options in that area of the park.

He said: “It will affect my team selection, but we’ve got options in there, although Liam Craig and Scott Robertson have been injured for the last couple of days, so it might leave us a little bit short in that department.

“We’ll just have to get on with it, we’ve got plenty of players that can play in those areas.

“Liam is just a tight hamstring and Scott a tight groin, so they haven’t trained the last few days. They did a little bit yesterday morning, so we will see how they are today before we make a decision.”

Fenlon is still intent on adding to his squad and has made no secret of the fact he is hoping to bring in at least one wide player. While Hibs made an offer for Paddy McCourt, it looks like the former Celtic player will instead sign for Barnsley. “Even before Paul and Alex got injured, it was an area where we were a little bit short,” said Fenlon. “It is a little bit of a problem and we have lost out on a couple this week that we thought we might get. They have gone somewhere else so we just have to go back to the drawing board.

“We did make an offer to Paddy, but, when teams from the Championship in England come in we are in no place to compete finance-wise. I think Paddy has agreed to go somewhere else.”

While Fenlon has worries in the middle of the park for the trip to Ayrshire, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for both Tim Clancy and James McPake. Neither have featured in the league this season but Fenlon is hoping that former Motherwell player, Clancy, will make his return to the first-team squad over the next few weeks.

“Tim is in full training. Probably this weekend is a bit early for him and we don’t have an Under-20s game next week,” said Fenlon. “We will probably try to get a bounce game and give him a run out and then the following week we play Rangers in an Under-20s game.

“James came back into training yesterday. He took part in the warm up and then worked with the physios after so he is making decent progress as well. But he is one we just have to monitor because of the injury. Hopefully, next week, if there is no reaction, we can move him back into full training.

“It’s a cautious approach with him, getting him to do little things and bringing him back in and seeing how it goes.”