Hibs are set to be without two key players for Saturday’s Ladbrokes Championship clash with Falkirk at Easter Road after goalkeeper Ofir Marciano was called up by Israel.
In addition to John McGinn’s inclusion in the Scotland squad for Friday night’s World Cup qualifier against England at Wembley, Marciano, pictured, has been selected for the Israelis’ Group G fixture in Albania the following evening.
While ten-times-capped Marciano will definitely be unavailable for Hibs’ clash with the Bairns – Ross Laidlaw will line up in goal – head coach Neil Lennon revealed last week that there are plans in place to allow McGinn to feature against Falkirk depending on his level of involvement for the national team. However, he acknowledged today that for the player, Saturday’s game probably takes a back seat.
“At this juncture, Scotland probably comes first for John,” said the Hibs boss. “Maybe not for me as much, but it’s a huge game for him to be part of. For Falkirk, it depends really on how much he’s used on Friday. If he starts, it would be impossible to play him on the Saturday.”
McGinn, having lashed in a stunning free-kick to round off Hibs’ 3-0 win away to Ayr United on Saturday which maintained their three-point lead at the top of the league, was replaced for the final stages by Marvin Bartley.
Lennon also admitted last week that surgery may be required on a calcified bone in the 21-year-old’s leg, but stressed Saturday’s early exit was just a precaution.
“When John hits the ball really hard he feels it in the ankle,” explained Lennon. “Taking him off at the end was just a precaution, and he’ll be fine for Scotland.”
Of his team’s performance overall in Ayrshire, Lennon couldn’t speak highly enough, ranking it as the best produced by his players to date.
“That’s the best this season,” he stated. “The first 45 minutes, as a manager, you can’t really ask for much more in terms of the tempo and quality of football we played. We thoroughly deserved to be a goal ahead and we finished the game emphatically as well. We had some great play and some great goals. To come here and win as well as that is a difficult thing to do so I am absolutely thrilled with it.”