JOE CHALMERS will play no further part in Falkirk’s push for the Premiership after injury forced the gifted full-back to return to parent club Celtic.
The Scotland Under-21 youngster joined the Bairns on loan in January and quickly established himself as an integral part of the first-team, making 11 appearances. However, he has been absent during Falkirk’s marathon play-off run due to a pelvic injury and manager Gary Holt has confirmed that the 20-year-old has returned to Parkhead for further treatment.
The untimely knock means Chalmers won’t be involved in tomorrow’s playoff decider against Hamilton – with the tie tantalisingly balanced at 1-1 – or the potential two-legged encounter with Hibs for a place in the top-flight.
Holt explained: “Joe is out for the game against Hamilton, unfortunately it looks like his season is over. He has gone back to Celtic. You would need to talk to the physio for the exact diagnosis – an osteo-pubis issue, I think he said – which is a pelvis complaint. It’s a shame as young Joe had been terrific for us.
“But that is why we have a squad and the boys who came in on Tuesday certainly did not disgrace themselves or the club. You want to give people a chance and you want to know they are chapping at the door and ready to come in when needed. That was the case on Tuesday, when I thought Liam Dick [Chalmers’ direct replacement] was outstanding.”
Holt says he is lapping up every minute of the build-up to Falkirk’s biggest game of the season so far. The club have sold over 2,000 tickets for the away end at New Douglas Park, while the former Scotland midfielder says “everybody wants a piece of the players” ahead of tomorrow’s game. Holt has told his players to use their moment in the spotlight to drive them on to a mouth-watering meeting with beleaguered Hibs.
He continued: “Although you always work hard and you always want to win, this has been a new level of intensity with the games coming so fast and it seems like everyone wants a piece of you. But that is enjoyable, you have to embrace that. That is what we want all the time. We wanted to win the league and we just fell short but we still have aspirations to progress through the play-offs and be part of these big games every week.”
Hamilton Accies are looking for the same attacking flair they showed against Falkirk in the first meeting on Tuesday night aligned with the ruthlessness they displayed when they thumped Morton 10-2 in their last Championship match.
After reviewing footage of the game that ended 1-1, Accies manager Alex Neil observed that his men actually had more attempts on goal against the Bairns than they had against the Greenock side, even though the sides meet again at New Douglas Park all square. Neil said: “If we put the same performance in as we did the other night I will be more than happy. It is a one-off game and it is all about how you perform on the day. We created lots of opportunities and I will be looking for the same again this time. We are a team that creates chances and even the Dumbarton game that we lost 4-1 we had a spell at 1-1 where we had four really good chances. We are playing well and the difference is whilst we have taken a lot of our chances this season against Morton we took all of them. Hence the score-line. If we were not creating chances I would be worried.”
Neil added: “Winning this game represents getting over a big hurdle. I do not want our season to end. It has been a good season and we have enjoyed it. We do not want our journey to end against Falkirk as getting a crack at Hibs would be wonderful.”
Hamilton midfielder Grant Gillespie insists he has not given Hibernian a thought ahead of the clash with Falkirk. “I’ve just tried to focus on the Falkirk game and hopefully the other boys haven’t looked too far ahead either because football can come back to bite you,” Gillespie said. “We will just put all our focus and energy into Sunday and hopefully we can get through to the final.”