McGeouch and Sinclair to plug Hibs El Alagui void
Hibs were dealt a massive blow when the summer signing had to be stretchered off four minutes from half-time in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat away to Alloa Athletic, with head coach Alan Stubbs confessing the severity of the injury had unsettled his players. The 29-year-old had netted four times in his previous five competitive outings for the Easter Road club and looked capable of matching the 28 goals he scored for Falkirk three seasons ago.
However, his lengthy lay-off has left Stubbs seeking a replacement striker capable of getting the goals Hibs so desperately need to recover from a worrying start to the campaign. It is expected doctors will discover during surgery today the extent of the French-born Moroccan’s injury, with the player himself vowing that all his “efforts are now focused on coming back as soon as possible this season”.
The general prognosis for the return to sport from a ruptured Achilles is between four and 12 months, and Hibs will now be keeping their fingers crossed that the specialists give El Alagui a recovery programme towards the lower end of that scale.
Meanwhile, Hibs confirmed that midfielder Owain Tudur Jones has departed the club.
The Wales international, recruited by Pat Fenlon from Inverness Caley Thistle last summer, had played just once for Stubbs this season, as a substitute in the Petrofac Training Cup defeat by Rangers, and was not even in the match-day squad against Alloa at the weekend.
The 29-year-old still had the remainder of the season left on his contract but has been released “by mutual consent” and is expected to sign for Falkirk this morning. Manager Stubbs brought in loan signings Dylan McGeouch from Celtic and Jake Sinclair on transfer deadline day and both players will be available for selection for Hibs’ next match against Cowdenbeath at Easter Road on 13 September.
McGeouch broke on to the scene at Celtic with an unforgettable wonder goal – and insists he can repeat that stunning strike for Hibs if he gets regular football. The 21-year-old completed a season-long loan switch from Parkhead on Monday after it became clear his first-team chances under Ronny Deila would be extremely limited this season.
McGeouch’s only appearance of the campaign so far came in the much-changed line-up that fell to a 1-0 defeat by Inverness Caley Thistle last month.
However, the Scotland Under-21 cap is hoping to go from bit-part player to key performer following his move east and believes his game will only benefit from an increase in game-time at Easter Road.
The former Rangers youth player was still just 18 when he netted an incredible goal against St Mirren in November 2011, running almost the length of the pitch and beating five opponents before drilling low past Craig Samson in a 5-0 rout for Celtic.
But, with just one more goal to his name in 27 appearances for Celtic, as well as an unsuccessful loan stint with Coventry City last term, McGeouch is determined he can get back to those heights of his first Celtic goal if given a chance to prove himself at Hibs.
He said: “When I first went to Celtic I was playing week-in, week-out in the under-20s league, so when I got my chance I took it with that goal against St Mirren.
“Hopefully that shows if I get a good run of games that’s what I’m capable of. So, I’m looking forward to getting more game time and hopefully I can deliver more goals like that one for Hibs. I went down to Coventry and things didn’t really work out, but I’m looking forward to this move. I played a few games in pre-season with Celtic and got good fitness.
“I’m feeling fit and I just want to kick on now and hopefully get games for Hibs – and get results and get the club back to where we belong.”
McGeouch was joined by Southampton teenager Sinclair who has also agreed a season-long move. The 19-year-old is the younger brother of current Manchester City winger Scott Sinclair and claims to share the former Chelsea and Swansea City player’s pace and nose for goal.
He said: “Me and my brother have got similarities, but I think I’m a different player.
“Because I’m small I can’t really hold the ball up that well, but I can run in behind – I’m quick and I can finish.”