Hibs' Stack and Nish return to training

Hibs boss John Hughes was today poised to enjoy a double boost ahead of Sunday's opening SPL match against Motherwell with Graham Stack and Colin Nish due to rejoin their team-mates in training.

The goalkeeper and striker have been receiving intensive treatment since picking up calf injuries in the Europa League matches against NK Maribor, Stack has been out since the first leg in Slovenia while Nish sustained his knock in the return leg.

The fact both missed Hibs' final pre-season match, a 2-1 win away to English Premier League new boys Blackpool, had, Hughes admitted, raised concerns over their fitness for the trip to Fir Park but said today they've taken huge strides towards making the squad.

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He said: "They've been doing a lot of work and I'd expect them to train with the squad today which is great news as you want everyone available for the first game of the season."

Hughes, of course, won't be afforded that luxury with utility man Ian Murray suspended, not only for this weekend, but the visit of Rangers the following week but, nevertheless, the return of Stack and Nish will obviously increase his options.

And the Easter Road manager believes this week's flurry of international activity will also help his preparations with Anthony Stokes, Hibs' top scorer last season but, without a goal throughout the build-up to the new campaign, scoring twice for the Republic of Ireland's Under-21 side as they defeated Estonia 5-0 in a European Championship match.

David Wotherspoon netted Scotland's equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Sweden's Under-21s at Paisley last night and 18-year-old defender David Stephens celebrated being called up for Wales Under-21 squad by making the starting line-up as he faced Malta.

Hughes said: "As a manager you worry about your players returning fit and healthy from internationals but all three of these guys will, I am sure, be buzzing after this week.

"It was great to see Anthony get a couple of goals, hopefully that will be him up and running. The fact it was a competitive game will also stand him in good stead."

Hibs will send a young side to play Duns tonight and the team could, again, contain the Slovenian trialist who featured in the 3-1 win over Vale of Leithen earlier in the week.