CROCKED Hibs skipper James McPake is set for a scan in a bid to get to the root of his latest back problem.
The big defender underwent an operation after suffering a serious back injury two years ago and missed the final few games of last season, including the Scottish Cup final against Celtic, after suffering a spasm.
And now he has been ruled out of tomorrow’s opening game of the new Scottish Premiership season against Motherwell after being forced out of the action just 24 minutes into the second leg of the Capital club’s Europa League clash with Swedish side Malmo.
Admitting he couldn’t say how long the 29-year-old was expected to be sidelined this time, manager Pat Fenlon said: “James was struggling but he has said it is a little bit easier. We will probably scan him over the next few days and see if it is the same thing or something different then assess it again and see where we go from there.”
McPake, pictured below, is one of seven Easter Road players who will sit out the visit of Motherwell (kick off 1.15 pm), with Ryan McGivern, Tim Clancy, Paul Cairney and Bradley Donaldson all battling injuries while striker Rowan Vine and teenage defender Jordon Forster are suspended.
Vine and Forster will be available for next weekend’s first derby of the season at Tynecastle while Fenlon hopes McGivern will be fit by then, the Northern Ireland full back, who missed both legs against Malmo with a knee injury, having rejoined his team-mates in training earlier in the week although the manager insisted he wouldn’t be taking any risks with any of his casualties.
He said: “It’s difficult, but what do you do? We want to get players back but it is important we don’t just get them back for a week then they are gone again because we brought them back too early.”
To that end Fenlon revealed Clancy, who underwent a groin operation during the close season, is pencilled in for a return to full training over the next ten days. He said: “Tim has been working away with the physios, he’s making good progress.”
The news on midfielder Cairney, however, is much bleaker with ankle ligament damage sustained in training threatening to sideline the former Partick Thistle player for between ten to 12 weeks. Fenlon said: “It’s a real blow for him because he has worked really hard to get himself fit. It’s horrible. As a player you can live with picking up injuries in a game but when you do it in
training with no-one around you it’s difficult, so I feel for him.”
The manager revealed that given his lengthy list of absentees, teenager Donaldson could well have been in line for a first-team debut, but added: “Unfortunately he’s also injured.”