Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom has admitted he shares the frustration of Thomas Agyepong as the on-loan Manchester City winger battles to end his four-month injury nightmare.
The Ghana internationalist has been sidelined since damaging a thigh muscle only 27 minutes into his comeback match against Dundee in late November having previously suffered a knee injury.
Having had his move to Easter Road delayed by red tape as Hibs sought a work permit for the 22-year-old, who had spent the previous two seasons on loan in Holland, Agyepong has managed just six appearances – and only one start – in a green-and-white shirt.
Heckingbottom has yet to see him play for Hibs but has hopes Agyepong will return before the end of the season although he conceded time is against him with only eight matches remaining.
He said: “It’s been frustrating for Thomas and the club. He has all the attributes, and I am sure if we get him right he can have an impact on the team.
“It’s just getting him over that final hurdle. Every time he has been ready to go that next stage [in his rehabilitation] he’s broken down. It’s been really hard for him.”
Hibs have been working closely with the English Premiership outfit on Agyepong’s fitness – a sports specialist from the club was at East Mains only last week to check his progress with the player adamant he wanted to stay in Edinburgh.
Heckingbottom said: “We left it up to Thomas. He wanted to stay and be around the rest of the boys.”
Meanwhile, Heckingbottom believes club captain David Gray with be fit to face Livingston when Hibs return to action following the international break, Friday’s trip to the Tony Macaroni Arena giving them the opportunity to leapfrog city rivals Hearts and into fifth place in the Premiership table before the Tynecastle side host Aberdeen the following day.
Gray left Easter Road wearing a protective boot after rolling his ankle during the 2-0 win over Motherwell, an injury which forced him off only minutes into the second half. Heckingbottom said: “We did the right thing in taking him off when we did and now he’s moving well.”