Alan Stubbs has revealed striker James Keatings is out of Saturday’s match against Livingston, although a scan of his latest hamstring injury has shown it’s not too serious.
Hibs had to wait longer than anticipated on the results after the machine which “reads” the scan developed a fault, leaving the 23-year-old, who has been dogged by the problem since pre-seson, to worry for a few hours longer.
But the news, when it came, was better than might have been feared, Keatings having done nothing more than stretch the scar tissue from his previous injury, supporting Stubbs’ immediate assessment following the victory over Alloa at the weekend that it was “nothing serious”.
The head coach, however, while disappointed to be losing Keatings again, was relieved to discover that his initial hunch was correct and that the player is not likely to be out of action for too long, while stressing he’ll be given the necessary time to again make a full recovery.
He said: “We were just guessing until we got the results. James actually felt okay on Sunday, but on Monday he felt it a little bit again so that’s why we need the scan to determine just what’s up.”
Keatings has been dogged by the problem since sustaining it towards the end of Hibs pre-season training camp in La Manga and was forced not only to sit out the programme of friendly matches but the opening games of the season as he suffered a couple of recurrences.
But after making his debut in a cameo appearance in the League Cup win over Stranraer, he marked his first start in a green-and-white shirt with the opening goal against Raith Rovers and looked to have his Easter Road career up and running when he lined up to face Alloa only to suffer this latest setback.
Stubbs, however, insisted he wasn’t concerned at the situation. He said: “It’s one of the most common injuries of any football player. It’s not as if we aren’t doing anything about it. We are doing strengthening exercises with all the players all the time.
“It’s just unfortunate there’s been a recurrence. James is important to the team but there’s no-one more frustrated than him. But that’s the reason why we have other strikers. It’s an opportunity for someone else.”
Meanwhile, Stubbs played down speculation that former Hibs striker Derek Riordan may return to the club for a third time.
The 32-year-old has been training with Stubbs’ squad for a second week but, the head coach insisted, it was nothing more than a courtesy, allowing Riordan, who is without a club, to work on his fitness.
Stubbs also admitted he’ll have to pass on the chance to see Hibs fans Andy and Jamie Murray in action in this weekend’s Davis Cup semi-final against Australia in action despite having the offer of tickets for Sunday’s play.
Instead, he’ll be watching Premiership leaders Aberdeen – who his side face in the League Cup at Easter Road on Wednesday – in action against Capital rivals Hearts at Tynecastle.