Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom has admitted to having a major worry over Martin Boyle after the winger damaged the same knee which required surgery earlier this year as the Easter Road side defeated Elgin City 2-0.
Goals from Joe Newell and Florian Kamberi had put the Capital outfit in a virtually unassailable position at the top of Betfred Cup Group C, but they played out the last six minutes with ten men after Boyle limped down the tunnel.
The Australian internationalist had replaced Daryl Horgan on the hour mark, but had to be helped from the pitch, with Heckingbottom revealing: “We weren’t going to take any chances because it’s the same knee.
“He just felt something. He’s had bangs on it in training but he wasn’t as confident on it so it was pointless taking any risks. We’ll have to assess him.
“As he swung away from the boy he’s pulled him, so it’s obviously how he has fallen.”
Other than that worry over Boyle, who was playing in only his fourth competitive match of the year, Heckingbottom insisted he’d got all he wanted out of the four Betfred Cup matches against Stirling Albion, Alloa Athletic, Arbroath and Elgin, honing his players' fitness while assimilating seven new signings into the squad.
He said: “We have got a lot out of pre-season. All the new players bedded in, competition in all places. We have won the league, which is the main thing for us.
“We wanted to win them and make sure the players, especially the new ones knew what we wanted from them and I think we are there. People will get better through the season, people will improve and make that place their own and others will be fighting for places but ultimately I want that competition.
“I want to be able to change during games, from game to game whatever we need to do.”
Heckingbottom admitted last night’s win could have been a bit more comfortable had assistant referee Dougie Ross - Elgin’s local MP - not chalked off a Kamberi effort midway through the first half following Newell’s opener.
Describing it as a “stinker” and possibly the worst he has ever seen in terms of distance onside, the Hibs head coach said: “We were strong, we were way on top, not playing with a real intensity because we were playing like we were the better team.
“We were comfortable at 1-0. I think their first shot was right on half-time, but if it had been 2-0 it would have been a totally different game. We saw it at Stirling, 1-0 up dominating, but whenever it’s 1-0 it’s dangerous.”