Hibs boss hopes Bamba won't return on a downer

HIBS boss John Hughes today revealed he's hoping Ivory Coast defender Sol Bamba doesn't return to Easter Road on a "downer" after suffering a double World Cup disappointment.

Not only did Les Elephants fail to make it beyond the first stage in South Africa but Bamba didn't enjoy a minute of action despite having played in all of his country's 12 qualifying matches.

The 25-year-old will be missing when Hughes' squad returns for the start of pre-season training at the end of this week, granted permission to spend a couple of weeks with his family in Paris.

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But Hughes has his fingers crossed that Bamba will have got over his disappointment by the time he meets up with his team-mates for their ten-day tour of Holland.

The Hibs manager said: "I really feel for Sol, what he has gone through over the past few weeks, being involved in the biggest tournament of his life and yet not getting the chance to play. I'll have to sit down with him to check how it has all affected him. We have a good relationship, a good understanding. I try to do my best for him and I think he appreciates it.

"But I need him at his best for Hibs. We have the Europa League coming up soon and Sol's biggest asset is his mind. If he has his head right he can do anything he wants."

Although Bamba is currently resting up in France, Hughes insisted he had few fears for his physical well-being despite the fact the former Dunfermline defender's season was extended by some six weeks.

Reassured that the recurrence of a knee injury while on international duty was nothing to become over-concerned about, Hughes said: "He'll enjoy a couple of weeks or so to rest up but Sol is a naturally fit guy and, in any case, I am sure he will be doing his own stuff. Being back with us for Holland is a good target. Everyone needs games to sharpen them up."