Hibs’ hopes of finishing second in the Championship received another boost today as boss Alan Stubbs revealed David Gray could be back for Saturday’s crunch match against Falkirk.
The right-back has missed the Easter Road side’s last six games, having suffered a hamstring injury. But while Stubbs has always been optimistic he’d be ready for the play-off matches, Gray is set to make his return ahead of schedule.
The initial diagnosis suggested the 26-year-old could be out of action for up to six weeks, but Gray has already returned to full training and should there be no setbacks this week, he’s likely to be included in the squad for the final day of the regular season.
Head coach Stubbs said: “We are really happy with how David has responded to his treatment. The prognosis was four-to-six weeks so we have to be cautious with him.
“If anything, it will be us holding him back a little bit just to make sure he is 100 per cent when he does come back. But he is doing very well.”
Stubbs will decide on what role, if any, Gray will play on the Bairns’ artificial surface later in the week, balancing the desire to see one of his most consistent performers return for such a crucial match with the knowledge Hibs could have up to six play-off games to follow.
The Capital club, however, will seek to reduce that number to four by clinching second spot. If they achieve that, their first play-off match would be played on Saturday, May 16 rather than a week earlier on May 9. Hibs moved into pole position for second spot with a 4-1 win over Alloa Athletic as rivals Rangers dropped two precious points in a 2-2 draw with Falkirk at Ibrox.
Stuart McCall’s side now face a tricky trip to Tynecastle, with champions Hearts determined to end their season in style as they pick up the Championship trophy.
Acknowledging his side now have their fate in their own hands, Stubbs said: “We have always tried to concentrate on ourselves. The fact results have gone for us is irrelevant if we do not do it ourselves on Saturday.
“It’s great that we know now that if we win it’s irrelevant what the score is at Tynecastle and that’s what we will be aiming to do. But we know we have a difficult game. We all know we have had a few results against Falkirk that have been difficult for us.”
However, in addition to the possibility of Gray returning, Stubbs also expects to have Dylan McGeouch and Fraser Fyvie available again. The pair were rested against Alloa due to minor knocks.