Hibs will be without Ofir Marciano for next Saturday’s trip to Celtic Park as the Israeli goalkeeper observes Yom Kippur.
The 27-year-old, who described himself in an interview last year as “close to my religion”, has asked head coach Neil Lennon for permission to miss the match with the Premiership champions as it clashes with the holiest day of the year for those who follow Judaism.
Yom Kippur, which is decreed as “a strict day of rest” and involves 25 hours of fasting, begins next Friday evening and ends on Saturday night. Lennon had no qualms about allowing his goalkeeper to be excused from the trip west in order to fulfil his religious duties.
“Ofir came to me a couple of months ago about it, to be fair,” said the manager. “It’s just one of those things – you have to respect a player’s faith. That’s more important than football.”
It remains to be seen if Marciano will return to the starting line-up for today’s match away to Ross County after he was dropped for the midweek Betfred Cup victory over Livingston following a slack performance in last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Motherwell.
Nonetheless, the absence of the Israeli internationalist will put added strain on the defensive part of Lennon’s squad for next week’s trip to face the top team in the country. The Hibs boss is already without experienced centre-backs Liam Fontaine and Darren McGregor, who are both out for several weeks after undergoing operations over the last fortnight. Lennon is hopeful, however, that captain and right-back, David Gray, who misses today’s trip to Dingwall with a minor hamstring strain sustained against Livingston, will come back into contention for next weekend.
“Dave’s hamstring is not as bad as we thought,” said Lennon. “We hope he may be fit for Celtic. Fontaine and McGregor’s operations went okay. We’re just going to have to cope without them but we should be able to do that with the players we’ve got.”