Hibs’ Owain Tudor Jones hopes to be fit for the derby

Owain Tudor Jones and Terry Butcher
Owain Tudor Jones and Terry Butcher
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Hibs midfielder Owain Tudur Jones is set to end his injury nightmare by playing against Rangers’ Under-20 side in today’s top-of-the-table clash – and it could pave the way for the big Welshman to return in Sunday’s Edinburgh derby.

Tudur Jones has been out with a hamstring injury since making a brief appearance as a substitute when Hibs drew 2-2 against Dundee United at Tannadice on January 5.

His absence, along with that of fellow experienced midfielders Scott Robertson and Kevin Thomson, has left boss Terry Butcher short in that area.

But Thomson, who had been suffering from a calf problem, made his comeback as Hibs’ hopes of a top-six finish evaporated in a 2-0 defeat by St Johnstone at the weekend, and now Tudur Jones could join him in the squad for Sunday’s showdown with Hearts at Tynecastle, providing he comes through this afternoon’s encounter at East Mains unscathed.

And Butcher, who is without the suspended Danny Haynes and has injury concerns over Paul Hanlon and Duncan Watmore ahead of the Hearts match, admitted he’d be delighted to see the Welsh internationalist available for selection again.

Butcher, who took Tudur Jones to Inverness from Norwich City in 2011 before the player made the move to Easter Road a few months before he did, said: “We’ve not had our problems to seek in recent weeks, we’ve missed a lot of players through injury. Owain dominated our midfield last season at Caley Thistle, along with Ross Draper. I used to call them the Great Wall of China because of the way they provided an excellent barrier for the defenders. As well as proving a threat in the opposition penalty area because of his height, Owain is a big help in defending in our own area while in the middle of the park he picks off clearances.

“He’s been out a while with this hamstring problem but he’s been back training for the past ten days and has done a lot of running.”

Asked if the 29-year-old might come into the running for the derby if everything goes to plan today, Butcher said: “It might be a bit soon, but we will see. In these situations it’s all hands to the pump.”

Hibs go into today’s match at East Mains trailing both Celtic and Rangers by two points at the top of the SPFL Under-20 League, but, with the Old Firm clubs still to face each other twice before the season ends, they remain very much in the chase for the title.