Concern for Hibs as key man misses two international games with injury

Hibs striker Mykola Kukharevych has missed two international matches through injury.

The 21-year-old forward was included in Ruslan Rotan’s Ukraine Under-21 squad for a friendly double-header in Tbilisi but didn’t feature in a 1-1 draw with Israel on Saturday and wasn’t involved in Monday’s meeting with Georgia.

Reports from Ukrainian media suggest Kukharevych arrived with an injury, although the exact nature wasn’t specified. The on-loan Troyes forward played the full 90 minutes of Hibs’ final match before the break for the 2022 World Cup, the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

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It remains to be seen if Kukharevych will be fit to play a part in Saturday’s mid-season friendly against Middlesbrough – although his involvement with his country may have ruled him out regardless – but one player who should be involved is Kevin Nisbet. The Scotland internationalist is looking to build up his match sharpness as he continues his comeback from a serious injury that has kept him sidelined since February.

Manager Lee Johnson is keen for the 25-year-old to get gametime and could potentially hand him a start for the trip to face Rangers at Ibrox on Thursday December 15 when the cinch Premiership resumes.

Depending on Kukharevych’s fitness, the readiness of Nisbet could be a huge boost for a Hibs side that hasn’t had its injury problems to seek in recent weeks. Forward Harry McKirdy recovered from a thigh issue to put in a spirited display as a second-half substitute against Killie while midfielder Jake Doyle-Hayes is expected to return to training this week and could potentially be back to face the Light Blues. Kyle Magennis could return to training after a hamstring strain kept him out of the defeats by Ross County and Killie.

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But Johnson may have to wait on veteran winger Aiden McGeady, who is nearing full fitness but still has a niggle as he targets a return to action. The 36-year-old suffered a recurrence of a ligament injury that limited his gametime at Sunderland last season in the pre-season meeting with Norwich City but is taking part in nearly every part of training and could finally make his league bow, having missed Hibs’ 16 Premiership games so far after appearing in every one of their four Premier Sports Cup group matches in the summer.

Mykola Kukharevych hasn't featured in either of Ukraine U21's fixtures through injury