Hibs' Tom James steps up injury comeback with game time in friendly match against Rangers
Tom James stepped up his comeback from injury by featuring in the Hibs development squad’s midweek friendly against Rangers at the Hummel Training Centre.
The right-back has been sidelined since the opening day of the 2019/20 season after suffering an ankle injury in the 1-0 win against St Mirren, but had resumed light training prior to today’s match, and lined up in Lee Makel's defence in Glasgow, with Easter Road head coach Paul Heckingbottom and assistant Robbie Stockdale watching on.
Fraser Murray had a half-chance after 15 minutes, firing across the face of goal from Jamie Gullan's pass, while Patrick Martin denied Nathan Young-Coombes on 25 minutes before Eros Grezda shot just wide from distance.
Lewis Mayo got a header on target for the home side from Kai Kennedy's cross but Fraser Murray cleared the ball off the line to keep the scoreline level.
It was Fraser Murray who had Hibs' next chance with a curling effort from outside the box which didn't cause Gers 'keeper Andy Firth too much bother, and the same player sent in a free kick moments later which Josh Doig got on the end of, but the former Hearts youngster could only hit the side-netting.
With just over five minutes until half-time, Doig got his head to a Fraser Murray corner and opened the scoring from close range, while Jamie Barjonas saw a shot saved by Martin on the stroke of the interval.
Hibs came roaring out of the traps in the second period, with Firth blocking an effort from Murray and then saving from Innes Murray's long-range shot.
Striker Ryan Shanley eventually did double Hibs' advantage on 52 minutes from an acute angle after good work from Gullan on the left.
Barjonas went close with a header from Kennedy's corner, but were handed a way back into the match with time running out as referee Craig Napier pointed to the spot after Young-Coombes went down in the box.
Young-Coombes took the spot-kick himself and beat Martin, and Barjonas scored an injury-time header to rescue a draw for Graeme Murty’s Rangers side.
A penalty shoot-out was completed to determine an overall winner, with Hibs winning 5-4. Gullan, Fraser Murray, Innes Murray, Shanley and James all scored with Martin saving Rangers' fifth penalty from Young-Coombes.
Heckingbottom will have been cheered to see James come through the match unscathed. Injuries to the 23-year-old and club captain David Gray prompted the deadline day arrival of Jason Naismith on loan from Peterborough United to bolster Hibs' defensive options.
James' natural position is right-back but he can provide cover for veteran first-choice left-back Lewis Stevenson, while Steven Whittaker has also filled in on the left side of a back four.
Hibs: Martin; James, Sadiki, Doig, Block; Stirling, Campbell, F Murray, I Murray; Shanley, Gullan. Subs: Combe, Woods, Yeats, Hodge.