Neil Lennon is likely to have to freshen up his team for tomorrow’s Permiership clash with St Johnstone as Hibs’ European adventure begins to takes its toll on his squad.
The Capital club will again be without Darren McGregor for the trip to McDiarmid Park, the defender having missed both the opening league game of the season and the Europa League third qualifying round 0-0 draw with Norwegian outfit Molde. His knee injury is likely to sideline him for another fortnight,
Goalkeeper Adam Bogdan also missed the tie with Molde due to a hip injury and while he could be in contention to face the Saints, it would appear he’s more likely to be held in reserve for the second leg in Norway on Thursday, with Ross Laidlaw again ready to deputise.
However, Swiss striker Flo Kamberi is still struggling with a knee injury despite having played against Molde while Aussie hitman Jamie Maclaren and on-loan Bournemouth midfielder Emerson Hyndman, who made his debut against Molde barely 24 hours after completing his move to Easter Road, are both short of match sharpness.
A question mark also hangs over midfield enforcer Marvin Bartley, who was replaced by Hyndman after suffering a spasm in the back of his leg and he, too, will be assessed before Lennon names his side which will be minus Manchester City winger Thomas Agyepong as the Ghana internationalist awaits a work permit to complete his loan move from Manchester City.
Lennon knows he has to strike a balance between domestic and European demands in terms of squad rotation but is well aware that St Johnstone were the only side Hibs didn’t beat last season, saying: “It will be a tough game, they made life difficult for us. Tommy Wright is a very wily manager, very smart, very shrewd. He’s had a difficult time because he has lost a lot of good players.
“When that happens it is difficult to find replacements for them. But it’s early in the season and he will be hellbent on getting off the mark in the league.”
Saints lost their opening fixture away to Kilmarnock while Hibs defeated Motherwell 3-0, a result Lennon is anxious to build on despite his selection problems. He said: “The boys will have a light session today and we will see how they are but we’ll have to freshen things up again.
“We are still very much in infancy in terms of the season. I didn’t want to make changes against Molde when the game was in the balance but you could see they were beginning to tire towards the end.”