Hibs boss Lee Johnson facing Edinburgh derby defensive dilemma

Hibs manager Lee Johnson faces a potential defensive dilemma going into Sunday’s Edinburgh derby with Hearts.

Monday, 1st August 2022, 10:30 pm

The new Easter Road boss hasn’t had his injury concerns to seek since taking the reins and currently has five first-teamers sidelined with various knocks, but those problems could ease in time for the visit of their city rivals this weekend.

Club captain Paul Hanlon has returned to full training but wasn’t involved as his team-mates left it late to record an opening-day victory against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park in the first round of Scottish Premiership fixtures on Saturday.

The 32-year-old is set to participate in a second-string match this midweek and, provided he comes through that encounter unscathed, would be available for Sunday’s meeting at Easter Road, but that would leave Johnson with something of a dilemma at the back.

Rocky Bushiri has started every game of the Johnson reign and has so far looked more assured than he did during his loan spell from Norwich City last season.

Ryan Porteous is surely a nailed-on starter while Kyle McClelland has also impressed in pre-season and veteran player-coach Darren McGregor was named among the substitutes in Perth.

Bushiri performed well in his only previous Edinburgh derby appearance in Leith, but Hanlon is a seasoned operator in these matches.

There is also a chance that Johnson could match Hearts in terms of formation and switch to a back three, which would leave room for Bushiri, Hanlon, and Porteous.

Lee Johnson will have some tough calls to make ahead of Sunday's derby

Either way, having such a key player returning from injury ahead of an important match will be a real shot in the arm for Johnson and the squad.

Paul Hanlon, left, with Rocky Bushiri during training last season