Paul Hanlon set for Hibs first-team return

Paul Hanlon
Paul Hanlon
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Paul Hanlon is expected to return from injury on Saturday as Hibs bid to reignite their challenge for second place in the Championship at home to Queen of the South.

The centre-back sat out the 2-1 defeat at Raith Rovers last weekend after tweaking his hamstring when being caught late by Rangers player Lee Wallace in the build-up to the Ibrox side’s second goal in their 2-0 win at Easter Road a week past Sunday.

However, Hibs head coach Alan Stubbs is confident the defender, who has been a regular starter this season, will be fit enough to help his team try and stem a two-game losing streak against the play-off-chasing Doonhamers this weekend.

“Paul felt his hamstring tighten following that challenge by Lee Wallace the previous week but he is back in training and should be okay,” said Stubbs.

Stubbs expects Jason Cummings, a second-half substitute at Stark’s Park, back at peak fitness, with the youngster having missed the visit of Rangers after suffering a knee injury against Cowdenbeath the previous weekend. He said: “Jason wasn’t fit enough to start on Saturday, he’d only trained once since the Cowdenbeath game but he’s been doing some work with the full squad.”

Danny Handling will come back into contention for selection after missing the trip to Kirkcaldy following a 76-minute outing for Scotland Under-21s away to Hungary just two days previously.

“Danny felt his back a bit stiff after arriving back from the Scotland Under-21 game,” said Stubbs. “It wasn’t ideal to be playing Thursday, arriving back on Friday and then having a competitive game on the Saturday.”

Farid El Alagui is likely to keep his place in the squad on Saturday after playing the last 13 minutes as a substitute at Raith on his return to action following seven months out with a ruptured Achilles’ tendon.

The 30-year-old striker stepped up his bid for full fitness when he played the full 90 minutes and scored a match-winning penalty for the development side against Dundee on Monday. However, Stubbs insists he won’t be rushing the striker back into the starting XI unless he believes he is ready. “We have to remember the length of time Farid has been out,” Stubbs said. “It’s about building him up and I still think he needs another couple of 90 minutes.”