HIBS manager Pat Fenlon admitted today that the return of Gary Deegan and James McPake will be like two new signings for the club.
Midfielder Deegan is back in the squad for this weekend’s game against Motherwell after ten weeks on the sidelines because of a broken jaw, while club captain McPake is also fit again after missing the last month because of a back spasm.
The pair’s long-awaited return to fitness is a huge boost for Fenlon, who is also hoping to see Tim Clancy back in action within the next fortnight.
Fenlon said: “Gary has been back in training with the rest of the lads for the last couple of weeks and he is feeling good.
“He’s been out of the side for a little while now but he has made really good progress and we are delighted to have him back in the squad.
“He’s been out for nine or ten weeks and him coming back into the side will be just like bringing in a new player. He made a real impact on the side at the start of the season and if he can do the same again then we will obviously be delighted.
“James has trained fully this week as well and we will have him available again for the first time in a while.
“The two of them are key parts of our squad, as is Tim Clancy who is still a couple of weeks away, but, to be fair, Lewis Stevenson, Tom Taiwo and Ryan McGivern have done well in their absence.
“There’s no hiding the fact, though, that it is great to have such experienced players coming back into the group and it will mean that there is increased competition for places in the side again.
“It’s good to have them available again – and at an important time for us too.
“They are leaders and add a couple more loud voices to the mix as well. They are both professionals in the way that they approach each game and it can only be good for the rest of the squad, especially the younger players, to have them back in amongst it all.
“The two of them are great characters and, to be honest, we have probably missed that side of things as much as we have the playing side of it all.
“We have got a lot of tough games coming up over a short period of time so we are going to need everyone fit and ready to play.”
Fenlon is hoping that his side will be roared on against Motherwell at Easter Road by a big crowd and admitted that he has been blown away by the reaction of the club’s supporters so far this season.
“The supporters have been absolutely unbelievable,” he continued. “I have been out and about meeting a lot of them this week, at functions and things like that, and it has been great.
“We had a calendar signing on Tuesday night and over 400 people turned up, which was just great.
“They have been top class since I came to the club. We need them to continue to do that, give us their backing and hopefully on the pitch we can help to grow the numbers coming along to games at Easter Road by giving them good results and performances out on the park.”