Steven Whittaker will today take the first step towards a return to Premiership action as he joins Neil Lennon’s squad for his first full training session following an injury which has ruled him out of Hibs’ last three matches.
The 33-year-old has been to London to see a specialist in a bid to cure the pelvic problem which had been troubling him for much of the season and he is hopeful that if he comes through today’s work-out at East Mains with no ill-effects then he could convince boss Lennon of his fitness ahead of Saturday’s match at Hamilton.
“It was something I’d been managing all season,” revealed Whittaker. “The pubic bone had become inflamed through workload so it was quite painful when I was running and I couldn’t really strike the ball properly. It was time to get it fixed.
“I’d been having treatment here, I went to London to see a specialist, I had an injection and I’ve had a bit more treatment in the last couple of weeks. In the past, I’d had a double hernia at Rangers and had my left side repaired when I was with Norwich so it’s kind of where I get my injuries. For other people, it’s their knees or ankles. Now I’m starting to feel good so I just need to get up to speed, back training with the boys and put myself back into contention. Hopefully, everything will go well in today’s session and I can crack on. Tuesday is always a tough day but if it goes well I’ll have tomorrow off and then hope to get through the sessions on Thursday and Friday pain-free and so give the manager something to think about.”
An imminent return for Whittaker would be welcomed by Lennon, who has had his defensive numbers tested in recent weeks with central defenders Darren McGregor and Liam Fontaine both ruled out long-term following surgery for knee and ankle problems respectively while various knocks suffered elsewhere had left him with only 15 fit players ahead of the international break.
Club skipper David Gray, on-loan Manchester City winger Brandon Barker and playmaker Dylan McGeouch, all forced off before half-time through injury against Dundee – Hibs’ last match before the break – all returned to face St Johnstone at the weekend. Having the versatile Whittaker back in contention would ease his problems again.
Whittaker said: “It happens. All your injuries seem to come in the one area at the same time. We have a decent strength in depth but you always want to see injured players back as quickly as possible to have everyone fighting for their places, pushing each other on.
“The fans don’t see it, but the ones that are injured are all working hard in the gym, desperate to get back out on the pitch as soon as possible.”