Hibs injury crisis: Shaun Maloney explains state of play as youngsters are thrown in at deep end

With Kevin Nisbet sidelined with a knee injury, still waiting for what many expect to be a depressing prognosis, his gaffer is dealing with a major headache.

By Moira Gordon
Wednesday, 2nd March 2022, 1:13 am

Without nine first-team players for the weekend visit of Celtic, while Shaun Maloney can welcome back Ewan Henderson, who was ineligible to play against his parent club, the list of absentees could shift into double figures.

Nisbet is waiting confirmation from a scan, but the suspicion is his season is over, while Matt Macey and another unnamed player are being given to the very last minute to prove their fitness ahead of tonight’s outing, against bottom-of-the-table Dundee.

That leaves Maloney with more and more youthful options and the conundrum of somehow making the enforced changes work as they protect their miniscule advantage over the clubs trying to chase them down in fourth.

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Kevin Nisbet left Easter Road on crutches on Sunday, The club are awaiting results of a scan on his knee injury

“It’s tough,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a team coaching or playing where we have had so many out. It’s difficult for the players, because they are missing games and it makes it harder for the squad.”

After coming off injured, Nisbet left the grou nd on crutches on Sunday. He has since had a scan and now they are waiting for news.

“At the time, it wasn’t the most positive news but we’ll have to wait for something definitive,” said Maloney. “We’re at that stage where we’re waiting on the opinion of the expert. Once we get that, we’ll know exactly the timeframe and, then, we’ll have to deal with that situation, whatever the news is.”

Maloney saw signs Christian Doidge is getting back to his pre-injury form on Sunday and he will continue up front, but back-up is limited as Elias Melkersen, who had been pushing for game time, is still recovering from illness.

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“Unfortunately, nobody will be back and there’s a couple more that will be given until the last moment,” Maloney said. “Matt did so well to finish the game against Celtic. We will see if he can make the starting line-up. It’s a different issue than before.”

The keeper struggled with his kicking in the latter stages on Sunday and, although Kevin Dabrowski has proved a reliable deputy, Maloney would rather avoid more re-jigs.

“Some of them are senior players, big players in this league, so it makes it harder,” admitted Maloney. “On the other hand it’s given young players a really good opportunity and even during the less positive results they’ve shown a really great mentality to come through that period.

“There’s been some really good performances from young players. The average age of the squad is super young - one of the youngest in the top leagues in Europe I think.

“Ideally I wouldn’t want it that young. It’s really positive for the players who have come through a difficult period and form has really picked up. That happens with young players, you will have ups and downs.

“But this is not the time to stop and be happy with what we’ve done the past few weeks. Our mentality has to be as strong as it was against Celtic, Ross County and Arbroath. If it’s not the same against Dundee then it makes it very hard.”

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