El Alagui on course to fill Malonga slot for Hibs

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Alan Stubbs today revealed he could have striker Farid El Alagui back in action in January – just as he loses hitman Dominique Malonga to the Africa Cup of Nations.

As the Evening News disclosed, the 25-year-old could miss five matches for Hibs after helping Congo make the finals of the competition for the first time in 14 years, Malonga making his international debut in their 1-0 win against Sudan in their final qualifying match.

But Stubbs believes El Alagui, who is recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon sustained at the end of August, can compensate for the potential loss of Malonga as he is bang on schedule for a return early in the New Year.

A recovery from such an injury can often take as long as a year, but El Alagui’s surgeon adopted a new procedure when he operated on the former Falkirk frontman which, it is hoped, will half the time he is sidelined.

Head coach Stubbs said: “If Dominique is called up in January, then Farid won’t be too far away at that time. We’ll have to wait and see, but Farid is doing very well at this moment in time. We haven’t set any targets, but we don’t think he will be a million miles away. It could be the first week in January, it could be the last week or the first week in February but we do not envisage him being a lot longer than that.

“A ruptured Achilles can be nine months but new surgery techniques have reduced the timescale so we hope Farid is going to be back sooner rather than later.”

Whatever the situation might be in a few weeks’ time, Stubbs also disclosed that it won’t have a bearing on his plans for the January transfer window, when he is hoping to add another striker in any case.

He said: “I was always going to be on the lookout, so we could have Farid potentially, Dominique and Jason Cummings and if there is the possibility of bringing in another one, a striker, I would. It wouldn’t pose me any problems having too many strikers.”

Stubbs hopes that Malonga, who missed the first leg of Congo’s qualifying double-header against Nigeria at the weekend with an “innocuous” knock, will be ready to face Dumbarton tomorrow, the Hibs boss having no intentions of getting his head out of the clouds.

He said: “We’ll assess him and make sure he is okay. Hopefully he will take part in training today. He should be on a high, his first international cap and Congo qualify.

“He will have had a really positive experience from going away on his first trip.

“Hopefully he is still up there tomorrow. You can never bring someone down so much when they have had such a confidence boost as he experienced.”