If tomorrow’s derby at Tynecastle is to be David Gray’s final appearance before going under the knife to tackle a groin problem, then the defender is determined to make it an afternoon to remember.
The 26-year-old has been plagued in recent weeks with some considerable discomfort, and will battle through the pain barrier again as Hibs chase their fourth consecutive win when they face city rivals Hearts at Tynecastle tomorrow.
But right-back Gray, whose scorching opener set the tone for last Saturday’s 4-0 hammering of Rangers, appreciates now is the time to step aside and bite the bullet.
“I’ve got an appointment to see the surgeon and then we’ll go from there,” Gray admitted. “It all depends what comes back but it could very well be my final match. I’ve had something similar done on the other side when I was a lot younger and I think I was out for about ten days, but I’ve heard of people being out for up to six weeks so I hope I will be back pretty quickly.
“It’s never easy going in for an operation at any time but, at the same time, the lads are full of confidence at the minute so it’s great to be playing in a team that is creating loads of chances and doing really well.”
He continued: “I’ve not been taking any injections as such but have been doing everything I can to reduce the pain with anti-inflammatories. But, as far as during the game goes, it’s not been too bad. In the game last weekend, the adrenalin was high, and the atmosphere and things like that help so it’s been bearable.
“I’ve been doing a whole lot of different things, a bit of swimming, and I have been training but it’s all about trying to find the right balance.”
Although Hearts’ unbeaten record in this season’s Championship has not gone unnoticed within the Easter Road dressing-room, the defender insists that, on the evidence of the sides’ previous two encounters this season, he and his team-mates have little to fear this weekend.
“I think we dominated the last game especially,” he said. “It was just one of those things that the guy [Ozturk] has scored a great goal. Nine times out of ten you’ll tell them if they want to shoot from there in the 94th minute then fair play to them, but nine times out of ten it goes into Row Z and you walk away with a 1-0. They’re maybe top of the league and undefeated but we more than matched them for 90 minutes.
“And, if Liam [Craig] scores with the penalty in the first one then it’s a different game altogether. It’s just one of these things and what happens in football.
“I think the most important thing is going into this game and doing the things we can do. If we can, I’m pretty sure it will a good start to the new year.
“I’ve always had the belief even when I first joined the club and was pleasantly surprised just how good a squad we’ve got here. The more and more we work together, the manager is really getting his point across and we’re starting to click now.”
Not known for his goal-scoring, Gray’s rocket against Rangers was his third of the season – a welcome addition to the player’s repertoire by his own admission.
“I’m delighted,” he admitted. “It’s credit to the lads, though, with the way we’re playing and the manager has given me the confidence as well to get forward.
“It’s been great to be getting the opportunities but, at the same time, the most pleasing thing for me last weekend was keeping a clean sheet. As a defender, that is what’s most important.”