Hibs boss Neil Lennon has revealed midfielder Danny Handling could be out of action until September after picking up another knee injury.
The 22-year-old missed the whole of last season after tearing his cruciate ligament during a pre-season match against Berwick Rangers at Shielfield Park last summer.
But he returned to play for the first time at the same venue earlier this month and again a few days later, scoring in the 4-1 win over Edinburgh City at Meadowbank.
However, Handling has suffered a setback and, although Lennon admitted it was not as serious as first feared, he disclosed that the player, who was seen at yesterday’s 1-0 victory against English Championship outfit Birmingham City on crutches, could be out for between four and six weeks.
Revealing it was again his right knee, the head coach said: “Danny took a bang, it’s not a cruciate problem, more a cartilage. He’s not having much luck at the minute but thankfully it’s not as sinister as we first thought.
“Sometimes when you’ve been out so long you get ‘add-ons’. He just got a bang or a twist. At first, you think ‘No, he’s in trouble here’. But thankfully it’s a different part of the knee.
“You feel for him the year he has been through but he has time on his side for the coming season.
“It’s frustrating for him but it wouldn’t have mattered when it happened. The only saving grace is that it’s pre-season. The season hasn’t started and that minimises the amount of time of the season he will miss.”
Meanwhile, Lennon was delighted with the performance of his side as a James Keatings strike was enough to beat Birmingham, the head coach having started with just one of the players who began Hibs’ Europa League match against Brondby three days earlier.
Liam Fontaine was the sole survivor from those who had played the 120 minutes before the Capital club made their exit in a nerve-shredding penalty shoot-out, but Lennon declared that everyone had come through their last home friendly with flying colours.
He said: “It was difficult to gauge how far Birmingham are in their preparations, but there were a lot of good things which came of the match for us. I didn’t want to play any of those who played in Denmark – Liam did because we were short of bodies. But I was really pleased. The football we played was good, particularly in the second half which was of a high standard.
“Callum Crane and Scott Martin were very good.”