Booth back on track but Hibs boss will not rush him

Callum BOOTH handed Hibs manager Colin Calderwood a boost by featuring in a match for the first time in more than a month.

Booth, who suffered an ankle injury last month, emerged as a half-time substitute in a practice match against Rangers yesterday having last played in the 3-3 draw at home to Dundee United at the end of September.

Booth, who was employed initially at left midfield before dropping to left back, was an unused substitute against St Johnstone and Rangers a little over a month ago but has since missed out altogether on Hibs’ last four games.

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Boss Calderwood said he would not rush the player back into first-team action.

“He got through the game – that’s the important thing,” said Calderwood. “You’ve got to think about it logically – Callum has only returned to football training this week, so would you think he would be involved on Saturday?”

Michael Hart was involved in match action for the first time since a friendly with Sunderland three months ago in which he was withdrawn with a groin injury five minutes in. Hart has not played a competitive game in more than five months and his appearance against a strong Rangers team, which featured Kyle Bartley and Davie Weir and won 1-0, gave Calderwood further hope.

“It was a good workout,” said the Hibs supremo. “It’s a step up from training, so it makes a difference.”

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“Michael only played 45 minutes – he’s had a nasty injury and we’re pleased with his progress. He has been back to training a lot longer than Callum. He had a more serious injury and was in rehab, but he did well in training and that was some match action for him.”

Akpo Sodje partnered David Crawford up front for Hibs, while second-choice goalkeeper Mark Brown featured at the other end. Sean Welsh and Matt Thornhill were paired in midfield, with the latter returning from a recent groin injury.

Thornhill, who hopes to return to the starting line-up in the coming weeks, said: “The gaffer said he thought I needed another game, and I’ve got that game under my belt now. My fitness is coming back now, I’ve been doing full training for the last couple of weeks now, and I have to stay injury free and get back into the team as possible.”