HIBERNIAN have been struck a major blow after it emerged Vykintas Slivka is struggling to be fit for the Premiership kick-off next month.

The former Juventus midfielder was given extra time off this summer after playing for Lithuania in their Euro 2020 qualifiers against Luxembourg and Serbia last month.

But the 24-year-old then returned to Easter Road with a hip injury and is giving manager Paul Heckingbottom cause for concern.

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Hibs, who kick off their Betfred Cup campaign away to Stirling Albion on Saturday, are already light in midfield after the departures of Mark Milligan, Stephane Omeonga and Gael Bigirimana at the end of last term.

However, despite only having Scott Allan, Stevie Mallan and youngster Fraser Murray available for the central midfield berths, Heckingbottom is eager for Slivka to complete a pre-season schedule once he shakes off his injury.

He said: “Vicky has returned injured and, for me, in my mind, he’s some way off.

“We’ve got to get him fit but then he’s got to do the work the players have done, the pre-season work.

“I’m not considering him because he’s not even training with us yet and when he does train with us he’s got to do all the work.

“So, he’ll be a while.”