Hibs hope to have Dylan McGeouch back in action later this month, with the on-loan Celtic midfielder due to return to East Mains on Monday to step up his recovery from an ankle operation.
The 21-year-old has undergone the early part of his rehabilitation at his parent club’s Lennoxtown base after having tidy-up surgery three weeks ago on an injury which flared up ahead of Hibs’ trip to Cowdenbeath in early November.
McGeouch hasn’t featured for the Easter Road side since his man-of-the-match display against Hearts at the end of October and is expected to be missing for another couple of games at least, but he has a chance of being fit in time for the December 27 showdown at home to Championship promotion rivals Rangers.
“Hopefully Dylan will be coming through on Monday to continue his rehab here so we’ll get a better indication of where he is,” head coach Alan Stubbs told the Evening News.
“He’s done the initial part of his rehab at Celtic because we felt that was the best thing for him. He’s still Celtic’s player and we didn’t want him travelling through here every day just to do what he could be doing on his doorstep in Glasgow.
“It’s been three weeks since his operation and things have been going well for him. He’s been doing his strength and conditioning programme with Celtic and everything’s gone according to plan.
“It’s still too early to say but we’re optimistic that, if things keep progressing, we could have him back around Christmas. If he keeps responding to treatment, it could be good news, but he’ll be out for a couple of games yet.”
Stubbs is relishing the prospect of getting the highly-regarded McGeouch back on the pitch, although he admits the effect of his absence has been eased by the fact Hibs are relatively well-stocked with central midfielders.
“It will be like getting a new signing back because he was hitting a real rich vein of form before he got his injury. He was outstanding at times. We’re looking forward to seeing him back and getting back to those performance levels.
“You always miss quality, but the fact we are strong in that department has helped us get over the huge loss of Dylan. Central midfield is certainly an area where we are quite strong.”
Meanwhile Stubbs is confident Hibs will be able to overcome the absence of suspended top scorer Dominique Malonga at Falkirk today. The Easter Road side toiled in a 0-0 draw at home to Queen of the South when the striker was away on international duty with Congo three weeks ago and they will have to find a way to deal with his absence again following his sending off in last weekend’s Scottish Cup win at Alloa.
Stubbs said: “We’ve got no choice, we’re going to have to cope. Dominique has got to take his punishment. It gives an opportunity for another player to come in and stake his claim and if he does come in and do well, it gives me a really nice headache. It’s not a worry that we didn’t score the last time Dominique didn’t play. We had four big players missing that weekend, which was a big factor. It’s different circumstances this weekend.”