Hibs hoping duo will prove fitness for Celtic clash

Hibs are hopeful that Brandon Barker will be available for Saturday's match against Celtic.

Thursday, 28th September 2017, 6:30 am
Updated Friday, 29th September 2017, 4:15 pm
Brandon Barker missed last weekend's win at Ross County due to a hip problem
Brandon Barker missed last weekend's win at Ross County due to a hip problem

The on-loan Manchester City winger, who had started each of his team’s previous three Premiership matches, missed last Saturday’s win over Ross County with a minor hip problem.

The 20-year-old will be monitored over the next couple of days, but medical staff are optimistic about his prospects of being fit enough for the trip to Celtic Park.

A decision is yet to be taken on David Gray, although the captain is deemed to have a chance of returning to the squad at the weekend after missing the trip to Dingwall with a hamstring injury sustained early in the Betfred Cup victory over Livingston last week. The availability of both players would be a boost to manager Neil Lennon, who is already without the experienced trio of Ofir Marciano, Liam Fontaine and Darren McGregor for the formidable trip west to face a team who haven’t lost a domestic fixture since May last year, ten days before Hibs’ Scottish Cup triumph.

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This weekend’s match kicks off a high-profile four-game run in which the Easter Road side also face Aberdeen and Hearts at home in the Premiership either side of a Betfred Cup semi-final against Celtic at Hampden. Lennon, who last week expressed concerns about Hibs’ mindset in lower-key fixtures after they squandered a two-goal lead against Motherwell, has no concerns about his players’ ability to rise to the occasion in their upcoming matches.

“These games will take care of themselves,” said the manager. “I won’t need any managing for these games. Subconsciously, they’ll be bang at it. But I need to make sure I get them bang at it every week. I experienced it myself as a player with Leicester, when you go to great stadiums like Old Trafford or Anfield, you’re bang at it.

“Those games take care of themselves. It’s the other games you arguably need to focus even more because you can get a bit of drop-off. It’s about trying to get the balance between playing the bigger clubs, the bigger occasions and the bigger games, and then maintaining the mental buzz for the games against what are perceived to be the lesser clubs.”