Miller's ban will only add to Hibs' woes

Under-pressure Hibs were today dealt another blow as it was revealed midfield star Liam Miller is due to be hit with a two-match ban.

Miller picked up his seventh booking of the SPL campaign after tugging the shirt of Hearts' Ian Black in the New Year's Day derby, a yellow card which will push him through the SFA's disciplinary points threshold.

As a result, the influential Easter Road player will find himself sidelined for two crucial matches.

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Although he'll be available this Saturday as Hibs begin their Scottish Cup campaign at home to Second Division Ayr United, Miller will be missing for the visit of SPL leaders Celtic the following weekend.

But, perhaps more crucially, the 29-year-old former Celtic, Manchester United and Sunderland ace will be forced to sit out the rearranged clash against Hamilton three days later, the trip to New Douglas Park increasingly vital for Hibs who now sit just five points clear of Accies who have two games in hand.

Miller escaped a three-game suspension when the red card shown for his trip on Kilmarnock striker Conor Sammon was rescinded and replaced with a booking but that has proved a temporary reprieve as the Republic of Ireland internationalist picked up yellow cards in quick succession against Dundee United and Hearts.

His absence will further deplete manager Colin Calderwood's squad with Hibs having confirmed the transfer of Sol Bamba to English npower Championship side Leicester City for a fee, which while undisclosed, is understood to be in the region of 250,000.

The move reunites Bamba with Sven Goran-Eriksson, the Swede having been manager of the Ivory Coast during last summer's World Cup finals, although the former PSG and Dunfermline defender didn't feature at all in South Africa.

Bamba was just one of 16 Easter Road stars out of contract at the end of the summer and free to leave for nothing at that juncture and now Hibs fans will be anxiously awaiting further developments with top scorer Derek Riordan having already been linked with a move to Turkey, although Calderwood insisted there had been no further interest shown in any of his players.

Calderwood, who described Bamba's exit as "a good deal for Hibs," will also have to contend with the impending departure of Jonathan Grounds, who is likely to return to Middlesbrough.

The Hibs manger, however, has insisted he's totally relaxed at the situation and when asked if he believed he'd receive funds to reinvest as he seeks to start revamping a squad which has so spectacularly under-achieved this season, replied: "Yeah, yeah."