Hibs hope Paul Hanlon will return for next league match

Hibs boss Neil Lennon is hopeful defender Paul Hanlon will make a quick return to action after missing his first match of the season with a pelvic problem.

Hibs defender Paul Hanlon has a pelvic problem
Hibs defender Paul Hanlon has a pelvic problem

The 26-year-old has been playing through the pain barrier in recent weeks to help keep the Championship title bid on track.

But, after having an injection which it is believed will help him over the problem, Hanlon was forced to sit out the weekend win at Dumbarton which, allied to Dundee United being held to a draw at home by Queen of the South, moved Hibs six points clear at the top of the table. Hanlon had formed a formidable partnership with Darren McGregor in the centre of Hibs’ backline leading to the club boasting the tightest defence in Britain, prompting calls for Scotland boss Gordon Strachan to consider calling them up for the next World Cup qualifying match against Slovenia in March. His absence saw Liam Fontaine team up with McGregor as on-loan Celtic midfielder Kris Commons’ first-half strike was enough to earn victory over Dumbarton and an 11th clean sheet of the season for Hibs.

Hanlon will again be on the sidelines this weekend as Hibs begin their defence of the Scottish Cup against Junior outfit Bonnyrigg Rose at Tynecastle but Lennon believes the former Scotland Under-21 captain will be fit to make the trip to face Queen of the South at Palmerston Park the following weekend.

However, Hibs will be without Marvin Bartley in Dumfries, the midfield enforcer picking up a one-match suspension after being booked against Dumbarton by Nick Walsh, the referee who sent him off as Lennon’s players lost to Ayr United earlier in the season only for the red card shown to be rescinded.

Bartley had another red card shown during a 0-0 draw with Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park a month later – also revoked – but on each occasion a booking was marked against his name meaning Saturday’s yellow card was his sixth of the season thus triggering an automatic ban.

Lennon, though, was delighted to see Fraser Fyvie, out for six matches with a groin tear, return against Dumbarton, the midfielder playing the entire 90 minutes while Scotland internationalist John McGinn got another 20 minutes or so following his ankle operation. Lennon said: “With Fraser and John coming back, the squad is starting to look very strong again.”