International break comes at right time for Hibs’ Darren McGregor

Darren McGregor challenges Dundee's Faissal El Bakhaoui at Dens Park
Darren McGregor challenges Dundee's Faissal El Bakhaoui at Dens Park
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Hibs boss Neil Lennon believes the international break has come at just the right time for Darren McGregor after the Easter Road defender was forced to quit the Premiership clash with Dundee as a knee problem he has been carrying flared up.

Lennon revealed McGregor, who suffered two cruciate ligament injuries while with St Mirren, had been declared fit for the trip to Dens Park despite fluid building up on the knee a few days earlier.

But the 32-year-old had to be replaced by Efe Ambrose at half-time during the 1-1 draw, although Lennon expects him to be fit for Hibs’ next match, away to St Johnstone a week on Saturday.

He said: “Darren has had a long-term, ongoing problem with his knees. He doesn’t train and he didn’t train last season either, a bit like the Paul McGrath [former Manchester United, Aston Villa and Ireland defender] scenario where he’s on the bike for most of the week.

“For the first time in a while, he’d just a little bit of fluid in the knee on Thursday. It settled down enough for us to think he would be okay. Like his namesake [Conor, Irish UFC fighter and boxer], he’s a warrior and it takes a lot for him to come off.

“He was in a bit of discomfort, so hopefully the two weeks will help settle it down.”

Lennon was also optimistic that on-loan Manchester City winger Brandon Barker will also be fit for McDiarmid Park after the 20-year-old had to be replaced by Dylan McGeouch for the final 11 minutes on Tayside.

Barker had delighted Lennon with his performance, twice forcing Dundee goalkeeper Scott Bain into decent saves, although the Hibs boss felt he should have scored when sent through by a superb pass from John McGinn.

However, Lennon revealed it was cramp due to a lack of game time rather than injury which had caused him to come off. He said: “He just cramped up. He’s de-conditioned because he hasn’t played a lot of football.

“I was very pleased with his performance. He’s exciting and the only thing I could criticise him for was he should have scored. He was a real good outlet and a real threat.”