Hibs playmaker Dylan McGeouch is increasingly optimistic he can prove his fitness ahead of Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup final against Rangers despite being forced to quit before half-time last Friday as Falkirk ended the Easter Road club’s promotion hopes.
The Evening News understands that fatigue may lie at the heart of McGeouch’s latest worry, the hope being that, as this week progresses, he’ll be able to prove to head coach Alan Stubbs he’s ready to line up at Hampden.
The 23-year-old has been plagued by a groin problem for much of the season, but believed he had found a cure following a visit to a specialist in London after again being forced off early in Hibs’ cup quarter-final against holders Inverness Caledonian Thistle in early March, ruling him out of the League Cup final.
A muscle imbalance was diagnosed and, while an operation wasn’t deemed necessary, the former Celtic player was given a strict fitness programme to follow, with Stubbs happy to remain patient rather than rush the player back into action despite Hibs entering a crucial period of their season.
But McGeouch did return to action for the final game of the regular season, playing the final 18 minutes of a 2-0 win at home to Queen of the South and following that up three days later with another substitute appearance in the first of Hibs’ play off matches against Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park.
Stubbs insisted he wasn’t ready for a start that night, but a few days later he was on from the first whistle, turning in an impressive performance as Hibs overcame a 1-0 deficit from the first leg in Kirkcaldy with a 2-0 win.
McGeouch played 66 minutes of that match, Stubbs afterwards admitting he was surprised he’d managed to last so long after such a lengthy lay-off, but in the first of the following two games against Falkirk the midfielder played the full 90 minutes and appeared to have finally put his injury worries behind him.
However, McGeouch was forced to limp out of the second game at Falkirk after just 38 minutes, signalling that once again his groin was causing him problems, putting an immediate question against his availability for Hampden as Hibs bid to end their well-documented 114-year wait for Scottish Cup glory.