Scott Robertson today insisted the imminent return of striker Farid El Alagui will be the perfect boost for Hibs as they prepare to tackle a testing run-in to the season.
El Alagui has been out of action since the end of August after rupturing his Achilles tendon against Alloa Athletic, but the former Falkirk and Brentford hitman played his first full 90 minutes since then, scoring from the penalty spot as Hibs Under-20s went down 3-2 to Celtic on Tuesday night in what will be seen as a significant step towards rejoining head coach Alan Stubbs’ first-team squad.
The return of El Alagui will be seen as akin to a new signing, given the fact the 30-year-old was less than halfway through his sixth match for Hibs – although he’d scored four goals in those games – when he suffered the injury.
And although Jason Cummings and Dominique have scored 28 goals between them this season, Robertson is in no doubt adding the threat of El Alagui will enhance Hibs’ hopes of clinching promotion from the Championship via the play-offs and also the Scottish Cup final.
Robertson said: “Having Farid back would be great, you have to say we have missed him.
“He would give us a completely different option up top, something we have not had all season with him being injured, the threat he has in the air and, of course, his finishing.
“He’s had to be patient getting back to this stage, but he’s had a bit of action with the Under-20s and managed to get a couple of goals so it’ll be great to see him back.
“Obviously he will feel a bit rusty. I have been in that position myself, out for a long time, and it’s hard to try to find your feet again, to get back up to the pace of competitive matches.
“But I am sure once he is back he will adjust to first team football, get a few goals and get us to where we want to be at the end of the season.”
Stubbs will now have to weigh up the temptation of pulling El Alagui into the squad to face Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park on Saturday, the head coach having stated he’d like to see him play a full 90 minutes in a couple of Under-20 matches before that happens, raising the prospect that he’ll get another run-out with Joe McBride’s side in Dundee on Tuesday with a return, most probably as a substitute, the following Saturday when Queen of the South are at Easter Road.
Meanwhile, Stubbs’ hopes of having Cummings available for this weekend have risen with the results of a scan on the 19-year-old’s left knee having come back “very positive”.
Cummings missed the defeat by Rangers and pulled out of the Scotland Under-21 squad for tonight’s friendly in Hungary after picking up the knock against Cowdenbeath, the youngster worried as it was on the same knee which suffered ruptured cruciate ligaments earlier in his career.
Stubbs said: “We spoke to Jason before the Rangers game and he didn’t feel comfortable or 100 per cent right with his knee. Our physios had checked him and they were happy that his knee was stable.
“We sent him for a scan on Monday and the results have been very positive. Hopefully that will help Jason psychologically as well because in the past he injured his cruciate, which had left him concerned.
“Hopefully in the next day or two his knee will continue to settle down and allow him to progress into training with the squad again.”