Hibs handed double blow ahead of Rangers trip - but Elias Melkersen could be involved

Hibs expect to be without the services of captain Paul Hanlon and midfielder Joe Newell when they head through to Ibrox on Wednesday evening.

Elias Melkersen trains with the Hibs first team ahead of Wednesday's visit to Rangers.
Elias Melkersen trains with the Hibs first team ahead of Wednesday's visit to Rangers.

However, January signing Elias Melkersen is edging closer to first team involvement.

The 19-year-old Norwegian has yet to feature since joining the Leith club from Bodo/Glimt and with the team struggling to convert chances, drawing a blanking in four of the last six games, and picking up just two points from 15 as a consequence, fans have questioned leaving a striker, who was the subject of a significant transfer fee, in the stands.

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Confirming the youngster is fit and available for selection, manager Shaun Maloney revealed that supporters could soon be getting a closer view of him.

“He’s progressed into the match day squad and is improving and adapting to what we’re asking him to do,” explained the Leith gaffer. “Really, it’s the speed and physicality of coming to this league.

“He is definitely improving and will be in the matchday squad for the Rangers game and pushing against the two nines, Kevin [Nisbet], Christian [Doidge], and Chris Mueller is also in there. But, Elias is in the squad and is pushing hard to get the match day 20.”

Paul McGinn has returned to training, as have goalkeeper Matt Macey and left wing-back Josh Doig. Consigned to the bench for the weekend defeat to St Mirren, with the latter making a late cameo appearance, Maloney says they are now looking to secure a spot on the starting line-up.

“I pushed for him to be involved in the squad in the last game without being fully fit, the same with Matt Macey and Josh Doig.”

But Hanlon and Newell have failed to sufficiently recuperate from their injuries. Hanlon, who has not played since the Scottish Cup tie with Cove Rangers after picking up a foot injury, is being assessed on a game by game basis, according to his manager, while Newell is still struggling after picking up a dead leg in last week’s derby stalemate.

“Unfortunately, after a great performance against Hearts, I think it will be too soon for him,” explained Maloney.

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