HIBS have been dealt a fitness blow after stalwart defender Lewis Stevenson was ruled out for up to six weeks with an ankle injury.
The 32-year-old suffered an initial knock during the Hibees’ 2-1 Betfred Cup victory against Cove Rangers on October 10 but played through the pain barrier to complete the 90 minutes.
He was deemed fit enough to feature in subsequent away fixtures against Ross County and Kilmarnock, albeit he was replaced at half-time in the latter.
Stevenson’s availability was crucial during Josh Doig’s enforced period of self-isolation which followed his Scotland U19 boss Billy Stark testing positive for Covid-19.
However, it emerged last week that Stevenson had suffered damaged ankle ligaments, with the Scotland cap currently confined to a protective boot.
The full-back, who has made nine appearances this term despite a fierce fight for a starting berth with talented teenager Doig, will be absent until well into December – with a month on the sidelines seen as the best-case scenario by the Easter Road medical staff.
Doig deputised for Stevenson in Saturday’s Scottish Cup semi-final defeat against Hearts and will continue to serve as first-choice left-back for a crucial run of fixtures, starting with Friday night’s visit to Aberdeen.
Sean Mackie, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Dundee, is now fully fit following his own fitness battle – making his second outing of the campaign as an extra-time substitute at Hampden – and will act as understudy to Doig.