Hibs defender Paul Hanlon in frame to return against Aberdeen
Hibs are hoping to have Paul Hanlon available for Friday night's clash with Aberdeen at Pittodrie having being without the central defender for their past five matches.
Hanlon picked up a “dead leg” during the Betfred Cup quarter-final tie against the Dons in September, replaced for extra-time by Marvin Bartley.
As a consequence of the injury, Hanlon suffered “calcification” on the muscle in his thigh but he has now returned to training with Neil Lennon’s squad although he was deemed not fit enough for the weekend defeat by St Johnstone, Hibs’ first loss in the league at home in 11 months.
However, if he comes through this week with no problems, he is likely to come into contention for the trip north as Hibs seek to end a run of three matches without a win.
Skipper David Gray has also been sidelined, picking up a muscle strain in the 6-0 demolition of Hamilton, an injury which has put him out for Hibs’ past three matches, and has an outside chance of being ready for Friday night, but winger Thomas Agyepong remains doubtful with the ankle knock which has put him out for the past five weeks. They are the latest long-term injuries to hit Lennon’s squad with goalkeeper Ofir Marciano and centre-half Darren McGregor having missed much of the early-season while Australian striker Jamie Maclaren, who suffered a back problem, started his first match since the beginning of September on Saturday in the absence of the suspended Florian Kamberi.
However, assistant head coach Garry Parker refused to use injuries or suspension as an excuse for what he described as possibly Hibs’ worst home performance since he and Lennon took over at Easter Road nearly 30 months ago.
“We have to do it without him,” insisted Parker when asked if Hibs missed the Swiss hitman’s physical presence against Saints. “We picked a team we thought could have a go but we didn’t do anything.
“I’ve never seen a team pass to the opposition so often in my life. We were not good at all. Going forward we didn’t test their goalkeeper until late on. St Johnstone deserved their win.”
Goalkeeper Adam Bogdan appeared to have rescued a point for under-par Hibs when he saved Danny Swanson’s penalty but Joe Shaugnessy struck in the last minute, heading home David Wotherspoon’s free-kick.
And it wasn’t, as Parker pointed out, the first time Saints had done that to them as he recalled how last season Steven MacLean was allowed to grab an injury-time winner only seconds after Anthony Stokes had cancelled out Murray Davidson’s earlier strike. He said: “You think Adam’s save will give you a lift but with two minutes to go you don’t lose the game so to concede that goal was criminal. Saints are our bogey team but we were poor. End of.”