Hibs star David Gray is facing surgery on the groin injury which has troubled him in recent weeks, boss Alan Stubbs revealed today.
The right-back was forced to limp out of action for the second week running when he was again replaced by Callum Booth for the final 20 minutes of the Capital club’s 3-1 win over Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park. It was the first time in 2014 that Hibs had recorded back-to-back league victories.
Booth had also come on for the 26-year-old the previous week as Hibs defeated Alloa Athletic when Stubbs admitted the club’s medical staff were attempting to manage the “rumbling” problem Gray has been carrying for a few weeks. But he now fears the defender will require an operation at some point.
However, he hopes the former Manchester United trainee can continue playing through the pain barrier as Hibs prepare for crucial matches against rivals Rangers and Championship leaders Hearts over the festive period.
Praising Gray’s courage, the head coach said: “It’s definitely a worry because he is an important player for us. I have to say if it was anyone else they probably would not have played. But his desire, his hardiness to play for the team and to put himself through the pain barrier is second to none.
“There’s going to come a point where he will probably have to have an operation. We know that, but we are just trying to manage him the best we can, to see if we can get him through and then it will probably be a decision we will have to take.”
Gray has emerged as a key figure since arriving at Easter Road in the summer on a window or it might be the last thing in the window, but what I don’t want to do is rush into it.
“I won’t just go and get somebody for the sake of it. I’ve only got one chance to bring a player in.
“If people leave then it opens a window for others to come in but at the moment we’re looking to get a striker in and that’s all. You want one that scores goals at the end of the day. If he’s 6ft 4in and scores goals or he’s 5ft 6in and scores goals, I’m not that bothered.
“I just want somebody who can come in and be a goal threat for us. We’ll see what we can sort out.”
Neilson declared himself satisfied with Saturday’s 2-0 win over Alloa which saw Hearts maintain a 100 per cent home record. He asked his team to adopt a new style of play by sitting off their opponents then hitting on the counter-attack and was pleased with the outcome.
“I thought we played well in the first half. We changed our style of play,” he said. “The players were told to sit off the play and try to get Alloa to come out and attack us so we could break on the counter. We gave up possession in their half and I thought it worked quite well.
“We need different ways of winning games, and playing matches, and it worked well enough but we’ve got more work to do on it. We missed a few chances in the second half, but it’s done now and we’re ready for Cowdenbeath tomorrow.”