Hibs defender Tim Clancy is facing a race against time to be fit for the start of the Easter Road outfit’s Europa League campaign in only 17 days’ time.
The 28-year-old watched from the stand at Dumbarton’s Bet Butler Stadium as Pat Fenlon’s players’ preparations to face either Drogheda or Malmo in the first leg of the competition’s second qualifying round a week on Thursday continued.
But he was included in the squad which flew out to the south of Spain today for a six-day training camp, during which Hibs will play both the Gibraltar national side and English Championship club Nottingham Forest before returning to complete their warm-up programme by taking on Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park.
Today Fenlon revealed he hopes to be better placed to gauge Clancy’s progress by the time he boards the plane home on Sunday, the former Kilmarnock and Motherwell star having suffered an injury-hit first season with Hibs, missing 23 matches, among them the Scottish Cup final against Celtic, as he spent three separate spells on the sidelines.
The Hibs boss said of the right back: “Tim had a little operation on his groin and it’s maybe going to take a couple of weeks before he gets back into full training. He should probably be back to running later in the week in Spain, so we are hoping that in maybe two or three weeks he should be available to play.”
Although determined not to take any risks with Clancy, anxious that he is fit for the start of the new SPL season, Fenlon will be keen to have his experience at his disposal, with veteran defender Alan Maybury’s contract having expired, although it is understood a return to Hibs hasn’t been ruled out. Nineteen-year-old Bradley Donaldson, without any SPL experience to his name, played right-back at the weekend, former Hearts kid Fraser Mullen
having only completed his
surprise move across the
Capital after being axed by the financially stricken Gorgie club that morning.
Left-back Ryan McGivern also sat out the 1-1 draw with Dumbarton, a game in which summer signings Liam Craig and Owain Tudur Jones both featured but, Fenlon explained, that was nothing more than a precautionary move, the Northern Ireland star having felt tightness in both his hamstrings.
Skipper James McPake, who again blasted rumours claiming his career was under threat after he missed the final few games of last season with another back problem, replaced Jordon Forster for the last 22 minutes but it is unlikely he’ll feature in Wednesday night’s game in Gibraltar as it will take place on a plastic pitch.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Sean Murdoch, has signed a new one-year deal but David Wotherspoon, according to Fenlon, is considering the offer of a new contract.