Darren McGregor is targeting a return to action when Hibs resume their Premiership campaign at home to Kilmarnock on Saturday week.
The 33-year-old centre-back has missed his team’s last seven games since suffering bruising to his knee after colliding with goalkeeper Adam Bogdan in the closing stages of the 1-1 Europa League draw away to Greek side Asteras Tripolis five weeks ago.
McGregor is hoping that the fact Hibs don’t have a game this weekend due to the international break will allow him enough time to come into contention for the next one after he started running at East Mains yesterday.
“I suffered a bit of bone bruising against the Greek team, so I took a couple of weeks off as a precaution,” he explained. “This week allows me to get on with it while the rest of the boys are off and hopefully I’ll be back and training with the first team again next week as Tuesday was the first day I’ve been able to run. I’ll run a couple of times this week then hopefully train in the lead-up to the Killie game and see where I am.
“It all depends on how you are in training. If the gaffer can see you’re sharp and ready, he’ll have no hesitation in putting you in but if he sees you’re a wee bit off it, maybe a bit leggy, he’ll leave it another week. There’s no guarantees I’ll go straight back in.
“Obviously we’re coming off the back of a poor performance (against Livingston), but you don’t know what the gaffer’s thinking. There are loads of variables within the team, whether he’ll stick with a three or change to a four etc. I’ll just take care of myself this week and hopefully get a good week’s training next week and see what happens.”
McGregor is no stranger to injury lay-offs after recovering from anterior cruciate ligament damage twice while with St Mirren. More recently, he missed three months of action early last season after undergoing surgery on a torn ligament in his left knee. However, he admits even a relatively short absence like this one takes a toll on his mindset.
“Injuries are the worst thing in football, worse even than a defeat but you just have to show character and get through it,” said McGregor.
“I’ve been here before, with two bad injuries that kept me out for extended periods of time so I know the mental toughness it takes to get through it. It doesn’t get any easier though, especially at my age. It was painful. I know my knee and know when it’s sore and that’s why I thought I would take a week or two off - in times gone by I would have been more stubborn and played through it but I need to look after myself ay my age and this stage of my career.”