TIM CLANCY looks set to make his long-awaited return to action tonight when Hibs Under-20s face Kilmarnock at Almondvale.
The former Motherwell defender, who has been plagued by injury since arriving at Easter Road in summer 2012, has not played at all since turning out in an East of Scotland match against Duns at the beginning of September.
That game had been only the second match of his comeback after five months out with a groin problem but the 29-year-old only managed 33 minutes before breaking down again.
Clancy has not played for the first team since the league game against Aberdeen at Easter Road back in April and, although a first-team return may still be a few weeks away, there does seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel for him now.
New boss Terry Butcher will be at Almondvale tonight to see Clancy play alongside the club’s youngsters as he tries to finalise in his mind the side which he will put out against St Mirren for his first game in charge on Saturday. Butcher is looking forward to seeing some of his players in action in a match situation for the first time and urged them to make the most of the opportunity.
He said: “When you look at the first-team squad, there are a lot of players not getting much game time and not getting many minutes for the Under 20s because they are overage.
“It’s hard when you’re training and not playing. It can eat away at your confidence.
“I need to see these guys getting some action and getting competitive matches, whether that’s for the first team or the under-20s.
“Players have got to impress, every game they play, every training session they have, it is like an audition. It is like a screen test in many aspects because we’re watching.
“I watch, Maurice coaches, but we both see what we see, and hopefully we can enjoy it.”
And Butcher warned that even the players who are selected for his first starting 11 cannot take their place in his side for granted. The former Caley boss wants to see a first-class work-rate from his players, whether it be in a competitive match or in a training session.
“The message is all about hard work. I am getting to know the players. I want to see the players and get a shape together.
“Players should be looking over their shoulders and saying to themselves there are some good players here who want to take my jersey so I have got to be the best that I can.”
Meanwhile, Richie Foran has signed a new deal with Inverness, ending speculation that he would join up with Butcher at Easter Road. The 33-year-old Irishman – who signed from Southend in 2009 – is now contracted with Caley until 2017.