Hibs striker James Keatings set to ease the Leith side’s injury crisis

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Hibs striker James Keatings is set to ease the Easter Road side’s injury crisis by returning to training following a knee problem.

The former Hearts and Hamilton forward has been sidelined since suffering a minor tear of his medial ligament following a 50/50 challenge with Dunfermline’s Jason Talbot on October 22.

But after working on his recovery with the club’s medial staff, head coach Neil Lennon is hoping that the 24-year-old will be able to rejoin his team-mates on the training pitch this week.

The impending return of the forward will come as a welcome boost to the Championship leaders, with John McGinn, Fraser Fvvie, Ofir Marciano, Alex Harris and Danny Handling all currently sidelined.

Goalkeeper Marciano is the latest player to succumb to injury after being forced to undergo a minor knee operation.

Lennon said: “We are very much hampered at the minute by long-term injuries all of a sudden, and it’s really testing the strength and depth that we have.

“Keatings, we’re hoping will be back training on the grass this week so he’s not far away but the likes of Alex Harris, Danny, Fraser, John McGinn and now Ofir, they’re going to be three to four weeks out at least.

“Ofir being out is another huge blow for us, he’ll be out for about two or three weeks.”

Keatings, who has scored one goal from from 11 appearances so far this term, is also looking forward to returning to action.

He tweeted: “Back training now so hopefully back on the pitch soon.”

Lennon, meanwhile, insists he has been delighted with summer recruits Andrew Shinnie and Brian Graham’s form after the pair played their part in Saturday’s victory over Dumbarton.

On loan Birmingham City playmaker Shinne was named the sponsor’s man of the match after producing an eye-catching performance in a midfield that has been stripped of the services of the influential McGinn.

From only a total of four starts for the Leith outfit, Graham, who got the nod ahead of Grant Holt, notched his fifth goal of the campaign with a fine second half finish after Paul Hanlon had put the hosts in front.

Hibs were not at their best as they bounced back from the narrow defeat at title rivals Dundee United the following week but Lennon admits he was pleased with the contribution from both Shinnie and Graham.

Lennon said: “We played Andy in the midfield against Dumbarton and I thought he was excellent.

“It shows his capability as a player because he’s been a stand out for us ow for the last six, seven weeks.

“If you look at Brian’s goal record since he came here, and the time he’s been on the pitch, it’s been excellent.

“I was very pleased he got his goal and he’s been a very good acquisition for us so far.”

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