Terry Butcher fears Scott Robertson could be out for a minimum of five weeks as the Hibs boss faces tomorrow’s Scottish Premiership match against Ross County without four central midfield players.
Robertson suffered medial ligament damage as he featured as an over-age player in the “mini derby” victory over Capital rivals Hearts, having not played a first-team game for almost a month and joins suspended skipper Liam Craig and fellow injury victims Kevin Thomson and Owain Tudur Jones on the sidelines for the visit of the Staggies.
The 28-year-old is due to have his knee scanned to assess the full extent of the injury he suffered but, Butcher admitted today, the early indications aren’t good.
Butcher, who was at the Under-20s game along with assistant Maurice Malpas, said: “It was a nasty one, a sore one. The boy came in from behind and ‘scissored’ him. He ended up going over on his knee, which was painful.
“He will be scanned and we will know a lot more then but we are probably looking at a minimum of four or five weeks.”
Butcher revealed that having played 70 minutes of Tuesday night’s match at Livingston’s Energy Assets Arena, Robertson was probably on the point of being substituted with tomorrow’s game in mind when he was caught, but admitted losing the former Dundee, Dundee United and Blackpool star along with his central midfield partner Craig has given him a major headache.
Craig will serve a one-match ban having picked up his sixth booking against Celtic at the end of last month, and possible replacements Thomson and Tudur Jones have also been ruled out, the former having just recovered from a calf strain, while his team-mate is nursing a hamstring problem.
Butcher said: “Having Scott and Liam out does give us a problem because they have been instrumental in achieving some good results with the team in the past. Kevin has only had two training sessions with us, so he is miles off the pace, and Owain has injured his hamstring.
“However, that’s football – that’s the way it goes and you just have to get on with it. It does give us a problem, but someone else is going to have to come in and fill their boots.”
Losing four experienced players in the one area of the pitch will leave Butcher relying, in the main, on younger members of his squad. But he insisted he has no worries on that score. Agreeing on-loan Arsenal defender Daniel Boateng could play a midfield holding role if required, Butcher said: “We haven’t done a lot of shaping of the team because of one or two niggles and knocks – Duncan Watmore, for example.
“It will mean areas of the team will have younger players than before, but the young ones have shown everyone the way. They are the ones that have lifted the club – they are fearless, they are brave, they run and they are certainly learning on their feet very well.
“We were done to the bare bones at the back a few weeks ago and now we are down to the bare bones in midfield. It hasn’t helped, but we will crack on, fill these gaps and fill them with players who are keen to do well.”