St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright will carefully weigh up whether to recall skipper Joe Shaughnessy from injury for the Sunday afternoon Premiership clash with Hibs at McDiarmid Park.
The big centre-half has missed all of his side’s games so far in this campaign after suffering a badly-cut leg in a freak cycling accident while back home in Ireland.
He aggravated the injury during the pre-season trip to Austria but has been working hard in training this week and comes into contention for the game against Neil Lennon’s side.
That fixture will be too soon for long-term injury victim Brian Easton but the manager revealed the defender is finally edging closer to making a comeback from his groin problems.
Wright said: “There’s good news on Joe and Brian. They will both get a full week’s training in with the squad.
“Easty probably needs another week because he has been out for a long time now. And it has been a tough time for him. He can probably see an end to it now.
“Joe has been able to keep up his general fitness. I will look at him with Sunday in mind because he is a really fit lad.
“The nature of the injury meant he couldn’t have any contact training in case the wound opened up again.
“Chris Kane is another two weeks away, Callum Hendry could be back training next week. Mark Hurst dislocated his finger and is a week to 10 days away.
“Richard Foster is back from suspension and comes straight into the squad.”
No matter who Wright ultimately selects, he will be looking for a reaction against the Hibees following last week’s opening-day disappointment down in Kilmarnock.
The manager has been impressed by his players in training this week but he admits it is what they do when the whistle blows on Sunday that ultimately counts.
He added: “We have to keep the ball on Sunday. We defended well enough particularly in the first-half at Kilmarnock but kept giving the ball away, turning over possession.
“My biggest concern is that we weren’t brave enough on the ball.
“With players like Drey Wright and Matty Kennedy here, we have to get them involved. And we have to get the right service to Tony Watt.
“The reaction in training has been good but that doesn’t win you football matches. It is all about what they do when the whistle goes on Sunday.”
Wright saw Hibs defeat Motherwell 3-0 last Sunday and was more than impressed by his pal Lennon’s side.
Of course, the Edinburgh side have since lost star man John McGinn to Aston Villa this week but the McDiarmid manager is in no doubt his team are still in line for a tough test.
“He said: “I saw them on Sunday against Motherwell and they played with fluency and a high level of confidence all over the park. They have done extremely well so far.
“Neil has lost McGinn now hard on the heels of (Dylan) McGeouch but has been able to recruit.
“I don’t think Hibs will be sitting on the McGinn money. I think they will spend over the next couple of weeks.”
When asked if he felt Hibs can challenge for second place this season, Wright answered: “I don’t want to put pressure on Neil because he will give me an ear bashing.
“But knowing him he will have his sights set on that. He is going to have to use some of the money coming in to recruit. The club are going to have to back him.
“He has a number of high quality players in the squad and has the potential to upset the order being predicted by the pundits.
“Neil fancied his chances of finishing second last year. He drove them and drove them.
“He got them into Europe and he won’t change this season. Neil will be exactly the same.
“He will want investment in the team. He will want to be the one who benefits from the McGinn money, not the next manager.”