HIBS were today sweating over the fitness of Alex Harris after the winger limped out of their opening match of the season having suffered what was feared to be a serious ankle injury.
Harris was caught late by Shaun Hutchinson as he attempted to escape the Motherwell defender’s clutches with his opponent’s full weight falling on his right ankle. The 18-year-old got to his feet but before play could resume sat back down with physio David Henderson indicating after examining the youngster’s injury that he was in no fit state to continue.
Harris had been taken to hospital before the match ended in a 1-0 win for the Fir Park outfit, substitute Henri Anier taking advantage of a lack of concentration in the heart of the home defence to slot the ball beyond goalkeeper Ben Williams seven minutes from time. Today, Hibs were awaiting the medical assessment on Harris, boss Pat Fenlon revealing: “Alex’s ankle has swollen up badly.” He added: “It never rains but it pours,” a reference to the fact Hibs had gone into yesterday’s match with four players: captain James McPake, Tim Clancy, Paul Cairney and Bradley Donaldson out injured while Ryan McGivern was deemed fit enough only for a seat on the bench.
In addition, Hibs were without the suspended Rowan Vine and Jordon Forster although both will be available for Sunday’s first Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle while, presumably, McGivern will also be ready to return.
Although a chorus of boos reverberated around Easter Road on the final whistle, Fenlon believed that reaction was more a mark of the fans’ frustration at the outcome, although another loss hard on the heels of being hammered 9-0 over two legs in the Europa League by Malmo has put both him and his players under pressure already.
He said: “There was nothing in the game. Motherwell are probably the second best team in the league according to everybody and we matched them in most departments. It was disappointing to lose as defensively I thought we looked a lot more solid, although we need to add a little bit more in relation to scoring goals.”
The return of Vine should help in that regard, new signing James Collins asked to operate as a lone striker against Motherwell, a role he performed well without enjoying any clear-cut chances. Fenlon said: “James put in a tremendous shift. We could have done with Rowan in that area, but he will give us a different dimension when we get him back.”