Hibernian head coach Jack Ross admits he is struggling to cobble a team together for tonight’s Betfred Cup clash at Forfar after being left with only 13 outfield players.
The Leith outfit will be missing 11 members of the first team for their penultimate Group B clash due to a range of issues.
Paul Hanlon will be absent after being drafted into the Scotland squad; Joe Newell, Lewis Stevenson, Jamie Murphy and Drew Wright are all injured, while Scott Allan remains unavailable due to a health issue.
Josh Doig is also out as he continues to self-isolate following Scotland under-19 boss Billy Stark’s positive Covid-19 test, with Ryan Porteous, Paul McGinn, Ofir Marciano and Alex Gogic on international duty.
Ross is hopeful his crippling personnel issues will improve ahead of Saturday’s Premiership trip to Ross County but concedes he is down to the bare bones for this evening’s clash at Station Park.
Ross said: “We’ll travel with 13 outfield players and two goalkeepers – so 15 in total.
“We’ve got 11 first team players ruled out for the game.
“Scott Allan is still unavailable; Joe, Lewis, Jamie and Drew are out.
“Josh Doig is isolating and then the others, Ryan Porteous, Paul McGinn, Ofir Marciano and Alex Gogic are on international duty.
“For Saturday, the international ones will be back and I would expect two or three of the injured guys to be available. We’ll see how the week pans out.”
Centre half Hanlon had missed the weekend’s clash with Cove Rangers as a precaution due to a groin injury but has been deemed fit enough to link up with Scotland.
Ross added: “I’m delighted for Paul. It’s thoroughly deserved after the strong start to the season he’s had.
“Paul is a manager’s dream to work with. He’s a model professional and a consistent performer.
“I know how much this means to him and it reflects well on the club to have the two Pauls and Ryan involved.
“I’ve no doubt all three will give good accounts of themselves.”
With Covid-19 cases soaring around the globe, Ross is also keeping his fingers crossed that his international players do not contract the virus or unwittingly come into contact with anyone who has it.
Ross, however, has no concerns over goalkeeper Ofir Marciano despite Celtic midfielder and Israel international team Nir Bitton testing positive.
He added: “It’s probably become more of a worry on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for coaches and managers because of the frequency in which we’re tested.
“And because infection rates have obviously risen in the general population it is remiss to think that won’t happen through all walks of life.
“I still enjoy the message that pops through from Nathan (Ring), our head of medical, when it tells you all swabs are negative.
“It’s part of the job I thought I would not have to look at.
“I think maybe (goalkeeper coach) Craig Samson spoke to Ofir when the news came through about Nir’s positive test.
“I’m pretty relaxed about stuff like that.
“Ofir is a mature, intelligent man and there is nothing you can do about it now.”
Hibs striker Jamie Gullan, meanwhile, admits he is grateful to Christian Doidge and Kevin Nisbet for passing on tips, even though he is trying to dislodge one of them in the starting line-up
Gullan, who climbed off the bench to net in Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Cove Rangers, said: “I’m learning a lot from them.
“They actually come to me to give me advice, even if I don’t ask for it they still come and speak to me about my game.
“It is really good to work with the two of them, they bring different qualities to the game so I can learn plenty off them.
“We have a good relationship and it is great to have senior members helping you.”