ALAN Mannus, the St Johnstone goalkeeper, hopes to make an early return from shoulder surgery against Hibernian next weekend.

The 31-year-old was injured against Kilmarnock last month, ruling him out of Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifiers.

But he said: "Everything has gone as planned with the rehab. I thought I might miss six games but right now I would like to think I could be back for the Hibs match as we've progressed things over the last few days."

The veteran player-coach Steve Banks, 41, has stood in for Mannus and kept two clean sheets in three appearances.

Mannus said: "I always thought I would like to stretch my career through to 40 but seeing Steve playing so well has made me think I should aim for even longer."