HIBERNIAN'S fight to avoid a relegation play-off spot might just be a little easier now that influential midfielder Scott Robertson has returned to first-team training.
The former Dundee United player has been sidelined for two months with a knee injury sustained in an under-20s Edinburgh derby in February and his absence coincided with the dire run of results that has left the club in relegation trouble.
The 29-year-old could lay claim to being the most consistent performer in an erratic season, but last played for the Easter Road side as far back as January 18 and, since then, Terry Butcher's men have lost seven, drawn three and won just one of their matches.
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Saturday's crucial showdown with St Mirren in Paisley may come too soon for Robertson but, with Hibs desperate for points to move away from the dreaded second-bottom spot, his return will be heartily welcomed by the club's worried supporters.
"I don't want to rush him back as the end of the season is coming up pretty quick," said Butcher. "He has been sorely missed and it has been one of those seasons for us where players have been building up a head of steam and then got an injury or sent-off or suspended or whatever.
"But we'll play it step by step because it's an injury we want cleared up before the summer so that he comes back for pre-season nice and strong and nice and sharp."
A victory for the Easter Road club on Saturday would go a long way to easing concerns and Hibs can at least take heart from being undefeated in the corresponding fixtures earlier in the campaign. "There's clubs running us close and the clubs have to play each other, so its dog eat dog," said Butcher. "It's about getting ourselves prepared to do enough to win."
Hibs also announced last night that any supporter pre-purchasing a ticket for St Mirren will receive a free brief for next month's meeting with Partick Thistle, as the Easter Road club seek the backing that could prove crucial in the battle to avoid the play-off place.