HIBERNIAN captain James McPake cannot wait to return to pre-season training in 12 days’ time after missing out on leading the club out at last month’s William Hill Scottish Cup final.
The defender was ruled out for the 3-0 defeat to Celtic at Hampden after aggravating a lower back injury.
But the 28-year-old is now planning to return to training when the pre-season schedule starts in less than two weeks’ time ahead of the club’s Europa League campaign.
Hibs will learn who they will face in the second qualifying round when the draw is made by UEFA on Monday, June 24.
McPake told the Leith side’s official website: “I’m aiming to be back fit and back in training when pre-season starts, so that I’m up to speed when the matches start.
“It promises to be an exciting season for Hibs with the Europa League qualifiers and we will also be looking to build on last season in the SPL.
“It was a massive disappointment to miss out on the cup final. I thought I’d done enough to make myself available for selection.
“But then in the week leading up to the final I experienced another set-back. It was really tough to take because I would have loved to have led the team out at Hampden.
“Now I’m focusing all my energy on coming back stronger and helping the team next season - improving on what we did last year and making more progress.”
McPake made 32 starts for Hibs last season - with only Jorge Claros, Paul Hanlon, Leigh Griffiths and Ben Williams ahead of him in appearances for the club.
The centre-half is currently recharging his batteries ahead of the new campaign and was keen to quash internet rumours claiming he had undergone back surgery.
He added: “I’m enjoying a brief summer holiday at the moment before the start of pre-season and I’m also looking forward to becoming a dad for the first time in August.
“Some friends have been in touch with me recently about these rumours, but they aren’t true - I haven’t had an operation and I’m not planning to have one.
“My main aim now is to put everything I can into making Hibernian successful next season and give our inspirational supporters something to cheer about.”