Ofir Marciano could face a race against time to be fit for the start of the new season after Hibs boss Neil Lennon revealed the goalkeeper may need surgery for a finger injury.
The problem has caused Marciano to pull out of Israel’s friendly against Argentina this weekend, the South American nation’s final warm-up match before they begin their World Cup finals campaign in Russia a week later against Iceland. Lennon’s squad are due to return to pre-season training on Monday, June 18, with their first competitive match being a Europa League tie little more than three weeks later, a tight timescale depending on whether or not Marciano requires surgery and, if so, the extent of it.
Marciano has been Lennon’s No.1 since arriving initially on loan from Israeli side Ashdod two years ago before making the move permanent on a long-term deal although he was dropped for a few games last season as his form dipped.
His absence gave his back-up Ross Laidlaw an opportunity, but he has not played since the end of October, Marciano returning to the side following the 4-2 Betfred Cup semi-final defeat by Celtic at Hampden.
Laidlaw subsequently suffered a freak shoulder injury in training and required an operation which put him out for the remainder of the season, forcing Lennon, left with only untested teenager Kevin Dabrowski, into the transfer market to sign Scott Bain and then, after he moved on to Celtic at the end of January, Cammy Bell as back-up to Marciano.
Revealing 28-year-old Marciano’s injury, Lennon said: “We have had some bad news. Ofir has had to withdraw from the Israeli squad. He has had an ongoing finger injury which may require surgery.
“It might be problematic for us in the short term.”
Lennon also disclosed he hoped to have “a couple of players over the line” by the time the bulk of his squad report back to East Mains.
Talks continue between Hibs and Swiss striker Florian Kamberi, a fee having been agreed with his club Grasshoppers Zurich when he came to Easter Road in January for what proved to be an impressive loan spell, Lennon adding: “I don’t think we are too far away. Hopefully there will be a positive outcome.”
Although Dylan McGeouch, who earned his second Scotland cap in yesterday morning’s 1-0 defeat by Mexico, is out of contract, Lennon hasn’t given up hope of persuading the midfielder to remain with Hibs.
There’s been speculation that new Rangers boss Steven Gerrard may be interested in McGeouch, who is also being eyed by a number of English championship clubs but, while conceding keeping him may be “a long shot”, Lennon said: “We are still in the hunt. We have made what is a good offer and we haven’t had any negative feedback from that.”