Hibs star Graham Stack was today hoping to be given the green light to resume full training after major surgery on a serious shoulder injury.
The goalkeeper has his eyes set on a return to action in the opening game of the season when Celtic travel to Easter Road but needs the go-ahead from the surgeon who repaired the damaged ligaments in his right shoulder.
The 28-year-old believes that will come later today when he pays what he hopes will be his final visit to the specialist.
Although he reported back for the start of pre-season training with the rest of boss Colin Calderwood’s squad at the beginning of last week, Stack has, so far, been restricted to working with goalkeeping coach Scott Thomson.
He hasn’t been allowed to indulge in any “contact” situations but revealed that once his surgeon gives him the nod he expects to take part in full-blown training sessions by the end of this week.
And that, he insisted, will put him on course to face Celtic on Sunday, July 24, although of course, Mark Brown, his rival for the gloves at Easter Road this season, will be eyeing the same target.
Stack admitted last season was his most frustrating ever, the much-travelled goalie suffering a back injury just days after the first SPL match, one which forced him onto the sidelines until early February.
His return coincided with a run of five straight wins which lifted Calderwood’s side clear of the threat of a relegation dog-fight but in the last of those he fell victim to a late challenge from Hamilton defender Mark McLaughlin which brought his season to a premature end.
Stack, who began his career with Arsenal, said: “I have an appointment with my surgeon today which, fingers crossed, will see me given the green light to rejoin the group, throwing myself around the goal.
“The injury I suffered is apparently something which is fairly common in rugby.
“The operation and my rehabilitation, improving and strengthening the shoulder, has gone well and this past week or so I’ve been working away with Thommo.
“At the moment I’m maybe a week behind in terms of full training, but not a million miles behind. My training has been controlled but I haven’t missed out on a lot but I can’t wait until the first time I throw myself across goal, land on that shoulder and don’t feel a twinge.
“My aim is to be fully fit and fighting for my place by the start of the season, that game against Celtic.”
Meanwhile, freed Hibs striker Colin Nish has joined English League One side Hartlepool United. The 30-year-old had been linked with moves to St Johnstone and former club Dunfermline but opted for Victoria Park saying: “It’s a new experience for me to be playing in England, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”