Eventful return to action for Hibs ace McPake

James McPake has not played for the first team since facing Hearts in October
James McPake has not played for the first team since facing Hearts in October
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Hibs defender James McPake was in the thick of it last night as he made his return to action following almost six months on the sidelines.

The centre-back, battling his way back towards fitness after back surgery, played the full 90 minutes as the Under-20s drew 3-3 with Dunfermline at East End Park. He scored at both ends, netting a first-half own goal before popping up with the last goal of the game to ensure a point for James McDonaugh’s young Hibees.

McPake emerged unscathed, increasing his chances of featuring for the first team before the current season ends.

He tweeted afterwards: “First 90 in six months in the tank! Felt good to be back out there on a pitch. Pity we couldn’t have got the three points!”

Last night’s game was McPake’s first outing since being sent off in the first-team’s League Cup quarter-final defeat by Hearts in October.

Since then, the 29-year-old former Livingston and Coventry player has been battling to cure an ongoing back problem.

He is desperate to feature before the end of the season having not yet had a chance to play under Terry Butcher since the Englishman replaced Pat Fenlon as boss in November.

As a result of being sidelined shortly after the managerial change, McPake also had to contend with losing the club captaincy, which he’d held for the previous 18 months, to Liam Craig.

Butcher has hinted McPake would be a player he would be keen to use prominently when fit, revealing that he was in line to start his first game in charge, away to St Mirren in November, before his back problems intensified, prompting the need for an operation.