BY IAIN COLLIN – Capital City Press
Hibernian head coach Alan Stubbs has revealed he expects striker James Keatings to return from his latest injury setback as early as next week.
The former Hearts marksman has suffered a nightmare start to life across the capital divide after sustaining a torn hamstring in pre-season.
The summer signing only made his delayed debut three weeks ago and subsequently scored on his first start for the club last month, but was back on the treatment table again this week again after being forced off in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Alloa Athletic.
Scans have since allayed fears the 23-year-old had repeated the tear that sidelined him for six weeks and have instead shown he has stretched scar tissue.
And, although the former Hamilton Accies player will miss tomorrow’s trip to Livingston, Stubbs is confident Keatings could be back in action next week when Hibs host Premiership leaders Aberdeen in the League Cup and relegated St Mirren in the league.
Stubbs said: “It’s not a new injury, which is really good news. It’s the same one, so we’re talking days rather than weeks.
“He’ll miss this weekend, but there’s every chance he could be involved in training again next week.
“It’s nothing too serious, but it’s just disappointing for James, that’s all.
“There’s probably an element of working with him on the mental side of things, but not too much. If you start planting seeds in someone’s head then they do become very conscious of it.
“We’ll just keep working with him. But the good thing it’s not a new injury, first and foremost, and it’s something that’s not going to keep him out for too long.”
Stubbs has confessed, though, that Keatings’ team-mate at Hearts last season, Adam Eckersley, will not be ready to make his debut until next month after penning a short-term deal last Friday.
The former Manchester United defender has been recruited to strengthen Hibs’ options at left-back but is currently recovering from a knee operation.
Stubbs added: “I would say he’s probably in the region of three weeks away.”