Liam Fontaine has given Neil Lennon an early Christmas present by telling the Hibs boss he’s ready to fight for his place after a seven-month injury nightmare.
After tearing a ligament from the bone in his left ankle in February which effectively ended his season, the big defender suffered exactly the same injury in his right ankle in early September in a freak accident while playing for the club’s development side.
But today the 31-year-old revealed he’s well ahead of schedule in his recovery programme and is available for selection if Lennon gives him the call.
He said: “I’m back training and ahead of schedule which is positive. The rehab has been quite smooth, touch wood, and it’s been good to be back training with the boys these past few days.
“I’d probably say after a week’s training you can put your hat in the ring for selection, but obviously the boys are going well and we’ve a good squad. I will be available for selection and hopefully I’ll be in the squads and if called upon I will be ready.
“I have been in the game long enough to know how the prepare myself for games. Obviously there is coming back and sharpening yourself up in training and I have a plan with one of the fitness coaches doing some extra drills to get that sharpness back quicker and to get up to speed.
“The gaffer has known me long enough to know that if he needs me I will be ready and available. I’ve been training the last four days, I’m well ahead of schedule given the injury I had and that, I think, all comes down to me being positive in my mind and wanting to get back.”
Fontaine’s return will be welcomed by Lennon, who found himself down to only two fit central defenders in Efe Ambrose and Paul Hanlon when the former Bristol City skipper suffered his second injury only days after Darren McGregor tore a cartilage in his left knee, surgery also ruling him out for a lengthy period.
McGregor made his own comeback in the weekend win away to Partick Thistle and the availability of Fontaine, allied to the emergence of teenager Ryan Porteous, will again mean Lennon is somewhat spoiled for choice in that area.