Kevin Nisbet dealt Hibs injury hammer blow as Shaun Maloney opens up on ‘tough’ situation for young stars

Hibs are bracing themselves for a Kevin Nisbet hammer blow with the striker expected to be ruled out for the rest of the season after damaging knee ligaments against Celtic.

The Scotland hitman is also almost certainly out of the World Cup play-offs as he prepares for a lengthy spell out.

Nisbet underwent a scan earlier this week but Hibs are awaiting a second opinion on the damage to his left knee.

Easter Road boss Shaun Maloney admits in over 20 years as a player and coach he has never known an injury crisis like it with this latest shocker taking the number of first-team stars on the treatment table to nine.

But Maloney – who admitted he “didn’t think it was a great challenge” from Carl Starfelt that crocked Nisbet – insists his absence won’t force him to change his style with Christian Doidge set to come in from the start against Dundee tonight.

And he has every faith that his squad – a group he reckons is one of the youngest in all of Europe’s top flights – can cope with the pressure.

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He said: “It’s tough. I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a team coaching or playing where we have had so many out.

“Some of them are senior players, really big players in this league, so it makes it harder. On the other hand it’s given young players a good opportunity and even during the less positive results they’ve shown a great mentality to come through that period.

“The average age of the squad is super young – one of the youngest in the top leagues in Europe. Ideally I wouldn’t want it that young.

“But it’s really positive for the players who have come through a difficult period. Now form has really picked up. But this is not the time to stop and be happy with what we’ve done the past few weeks. Our mentality has to be as strong as it was against Celtic, Ross County and Arbroath.

“We’ll always try to play a certain way at this club. Christian has lots of attributes and can play in any system or style of play.”

Fans hoping £350,000 January signing Elias Melkersen could fill the Nisbet void must wait as the Norwegian misses out.

Maloney added: “Elias was progressing well but unfortunately he came down ill and so missed the last game.

“That was a blow. He was starting to really push for game time and that’s why he was on the bench. Some people recover really quickly from illness and others take a little bit longer.

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“I hope he can recover really quickly and he’s pushing and helping Christian in that No.9 position. But we’ll have to see how he is when he returns to training.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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