Vykintas Slivka struggling to be fit for Hibs league kick off

Vykintas Slivka could miss the league opener. Pic: SNS
Vykintas Slivka could miss the league opener. Pic: SNS
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Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom has revealed Vykintas Slivka has been added to the list of Easter Road players battling to be fit for the start of the new Premiership season.

Slivka suffered a tendon problem in his hip while on international duty with Lithuania, playing in European Championship matches against Luxembourg and Serbia at the beginning of last month.

As yet he’s been unable to rejoin Heckingbottom’s squad in pre-season training, putting a question mark against whether he’ll be ready to face St Mirren in the opening league match on August 3.

Lewis Stevenson, who picked up a calf injury, and Ryan Porteous, still recovering from the knee operation he underwent midway through last season, haven’t played in Hibs’ three friendlies to date, away to Arbroath, Dunfermline and Carlisle.

Like Slivka, all three are unlikely to feature in any of Hibs’ upcoming four Betfred Cup matches which precede the visit of the Buddies, with Heckingbottom pointing out they trail the rest of his squad in terms of fitness by some way.

He said: “I don’t know whether Vicky will be ready for the start of the Premiership season. Medically, it’s possible but the longer he is out, the more work he needs to do to get up to speed with the rest of the boys.

“Our boys are three games in and a few have played 90 minutes – plus all the running and work they have been doing on the training ground.

“We will be pushing to get him back for that, but the bottom line is he’ll be ready when he’s ready. He needs to do the work before he comes back in,” added Heckingbottom.

Slivka played the full 90 minutes in both Euro matches, coming back early to Easter Road to report the problem.

Heckingbottom continued: “He can remember getting a bang but then he has carried on as normal.

“He came back and reported it. We just treated it as a bang but it didn’t settle down and there’s inflammation of the tendon which we need to get rid of.”

Heckingbottom also has injury worries over captain David Gray and winger Martin Boyle as well as defenders Steven Whittaker and Paul Hanlon.

The quartet failed to make the trip to play Carlisle at Brunton Park in the midweek friendly ahead of the club’s first Betfred Cup match against Stirling Albion at Forthbank on Saturday.

Heckingbottom believes a number of them could be fit by then while adamant he won’t take any risks with Forthbank, saying: “Better they miss a game than a couple of weeks.”

Meanwhile, Heckingbottom insisted he won’t compromise in his search for further additions to his squad, revealing that while he’d like those signing to be made “sooner rather than later,” he’s prepared to play a waiting game.

Heckingbottom said: “We are on the hunt [for reinforcements]. Whether we are any closer, we don’t know. We will keep pushing and trying our hardest and if it happens, it happens.

“We want them in, of course. We could go and get a player tomorrow but we have to be happy with that player. We won’t compromise and make sure we get the right person.”

He revealed Hibs have “been in dialogue and will continue to be” with striker Marc McNulty, his club Reading where he’s been told to stay away from pre-season training, and his agent, while a similar situation applies to Genoa midfielder Stephane Omeonga, who he’d also like to see back at Easter Road.