Lewis Miller will walk straight back into the Hibs starting XI for tomorrow night’s trip to Celtic Park. And fellow fullback Jordan Obita is also in line for a return as Nick Montgomery strengthens his backline for the most daunting away game on the Scottish Premiership fixture list.
Miller served a one-match suspension at the weekend, leaving 16-year-old Rory Whittaker to man up in a dramatic home win over Aberdeen. Obita also missed that game with an ankle injury but is poised to edge out veteran Lewis Stevenson for selection in Glasgow.
Montgomery said: “Jordan is back in the frame for tomorrow. What we didn’t want to do was risk him at the weekend. We’ve got a really thin squad at the moment, having a 16-year-old start and more 16-year-olds on the bench.
“We’ve got five or six games coming up in a short space of time, so we can’t risk losing a player for five or six weeks. I’ve got every confidence in the guys coming in. It will be good to get Jordan back, hopefully, for tomorrow.”
Monty, who also threw 17-year-old Rudi Molotnikov into the game as a substitute on Sunday, insists he’ll continue to put faith in youngsters – even if that means bucking a trend.
“You have to be brave as a manager,” he said, pointing out: “Rory is the next right back at the club. It’s easy to move players around, play them out of position, but you have to brave.
“I thought Rory was outstanding until he ran out of energy 20 or 30 minutes from time. Then I realised I’d made too many subs and couldn’t replace him! He had to dig in and he’ll learn a lot from that.”
Asked about a recent stat showing that only two Scottish players under the age of 21 had started in a full card of six Premiership games, Montgomery said: “I heard that statistic. I’m really proud that we’re one of those teams to have a 16-year-old starting.
“They have to be good enough. You can’t just throw players in. Rory showed again he’s got massive promise and is more than good enough to play in the league That’s quite an alarming stat, but there are not many teams in the competition – and everyone wants to be a footballer.
“Hopefully we can see more young players coming through, because that’s going to bode well for the national team in the future. I’m sure every club will be looking at it. But it’s always weighing up the balance between risk and reward – because there is definitely a lot of reward in bringing players through, transferring them on and reinvesting in the club.”
How Hibs are likely to line up tomorrow night: