Terry Butcher today revealed that both Scott Robertson and James McPake could yet play their part in Hibs’ bid to avoid being dragged into a play-off battle.
But the Easter Road boss also disclosed that Paul Heffernan’s season is over after the striker tore a groin muscle as he warmed up for the recent visit of Aberdeen, an injury which led to James Collins stepping into the starting line-up for what proved to be a 2-0 defeat which left the Capital club just four points off second-bottom place.
The loss of the experienced Heffernan, pictured, along with that of Paul Hanlon, who has undergone a knee operation, for the final five matches of the season is a massive blow for Hibs as they attempt to halt a run in which they have won just one of their last 13 matches when they face St Mirren in Paisley this weekend in the first of their post-split fixtures.
Hanlon has already sat out Hibs’ last three games, forcing Butcher to reshuffle his back four on a weekly basis, which he will have to do again for Saturday’s trip along the M8 with Ryan McGivern suspended. Veteran defender Alan Maybury is available again having missed the Dons clash after being sent off in the derby match against Hearts at Tynecastle.
Danny Haynes will also be added to the squad, the on-loan Notts County striker having been hit with a two-game ban following his red card against St Johnstone, but Butcher admitted having Heffernan sidelined for such a crucial period was a setback. He said: “Paul has suffered a nasty one, he’s pulled the muscle away from the bone and won’t play again this season.”
McPake has not featured since the end of October after undergoing a back operation in a bid to cure the problems which have dogged his time at Easter Road.
The former Coventry City centre-back won’t be ready to feature against the Buddies, but Butcher, who had planned to start with McPake in his first game in charge back in November before his problems resurfaced, hasn’t ruled him out of being involved before the end of the season.
He said: “James came back into training a few weeks ago and did some work. He had to step back a bit but he’s been looking good and will return to full training tomorrow or Friday. He wants to play between now and the end of the season and, fingers crossed, he’s going to play a part.”
Butcher, though, was cautiously optimistic in regard to midfielder Robertson, who has returned to training following a medial knee ligament injury.
“Scott is slightly ahead [of McPake] as he’s been out for a far shorter time. Ideally I’d like to see both of them get some game time in the under-20s but games are also starting to run out there too.”