Hibs star suspended for opening match of new season

Steven Whittaker will be sidelined for Hibs' Premiership opener at the start of August
Steven Whittaker will be sidelined for Hibs' Premiership opener at the start of August
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Hibs will be without Steven Whittaker for the opening Premiership match of next season thanks to a booking picked up in the fifth minute of added-on time in their final match of last term against Rangers.

Whitaker was shown the yellow card by referee Andrew Dallas for a foul on Rangers Jamie Murphy in the dying seconds of the epic 5-5 draw at Easter Road, his sixth of the season, having also been booked a few days earlier for a challenge on Hearts’ Demetri Mitchell at Tynecastle in the final Edinburgh derby. It means the 33-year-old has been hit by a one-match ban which will be held over until the start of the new campaign, with the first league game coming on Saturday, August 4.

As disappointing as it will be to be without the versatile Whittaker, Hibs boss Neil Lennon will nevertheless have been delighted at his squad’s disciplinary record as they returned to the top flight after a three-year absence to claim a fourth-place finish, narrowly missing out on taking the runners-up spot behind champions Celtic.

The Easter Road club had the least number of red cards shown, just the one to goalkeeper Ofir Marciano for handling the ball outside his penalty area during a match against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park, while the 63 yellow cards incurred was the second lowest of all Premiership clubs.

Although Hibs had both skipper David Gray and Darren McGregor suspended for the opening match of the season just finished, their bans – like the one Whittaker is now due to serve – held over from the previous campaign, Lennon, incredibly, lost only three players to suspension over the entire 38-match Premiership schedule, totalling just five games in all. In addition to Marciano, midfielder Marvin Bartley incurred a one-match ban for amassing six bookings while John McGinn served two suspensions, sitting out a game for hitting the disciplinary limit and then another two when the yellow cards shown to him rose to 12.