David Gray injury may force Hibs to target new right-back

A concerned Neil Lennon looks on as David Gray is helped off against Willem II
A concerned Neil Lennon looks on as David Gray is helped off against Willem II
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Hibs head coach Neil Lennon has revealed he may have to make a move into the transfer market after skipper David Gray suffered what’s feared to be a season-ending injury.

Gray fell to the ground clutching his Achilles only seven minutes into a friendly match against Dutch side Willem II as the Easter Road outfit brought their week-long winter training camp in the Algarve to an end.

There was immediate concern for the 29-year-old, who was in obvious distress as he was helped to the dressing-room, emerging afterwards with a protective boot on his foot with Lennon admitting he feared the worst. Lennon said the situation was “heartbreaking” for Gray, who had appeared to be finally over the niggling knee problem which had restricted him to just 12 appearances this season.

Lennon said: “I think it is a bad one. He felt something pop in his Achilles and that’s always a really bad sign. It could be devastating for us and him so we will have to wait and see what the prognosis is when we get back. It’s heartbreaking, it’s one of those innocuous things.

“I remember Steven Mouyokolo at Celtic. He was just jogging and the next thing we hear a ‘pop’ and he basically couldn’t lift his foot off the floor. I hope it’s not going to be as bad as that but I think it is pretty serious, a real blow. David will be in boot to keep it stable for a couple of days. We don’t really know if it is a tear or a rupture.

“I don’t think there’s much we can really do until we get him home and get him assessed. He may need surgery on it and, if that is the case, he’ll probably be out for the season.”

Gray’s injury leaves Lennon again short of cover at right-back, central defender Efe Ambrose forced to operate out of position with Steven Whittaker nursing a pelvic problem which has troubled him for much of the season.

Whittaker travelled with his team-mates to Portugal but played no part in either of the two games they played and, while he has the option to again play Ambrose in that position, Lennon admitted it “wasn’t ideal”.

Asked if he might have to consider making a move for a new player, Lennon replied: “Possibly. Steven is struggling with his pelvis. I’ve been going with Efe for the last few games – he does a good job but it’s not ideal.”

Ambrose didn’t go to Portugal, Lennon explaining a visa problem had prevented the Nigerian internationalist from doing so but revealed the former Celtic player had been training with the club’s development squad at East Mains throughout the week. He said: “Efe is the least of my worries in terms of fitness. He could miss six months and come back in to training. It’s not a big issue.”