Hibernian’s Chris Cadden is facing the prospect of missing most of next season amid fears that he ruptured his Achilles tendon in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with 10-man Hearts at Tynecastle.
The 26-year-old was carried off in clear distress after landing awkwardly while making a headed clearance in his own box midway through the second half.
Hibs also lost Jake Doyle-Hayes after he dislocated his shoulder in an eventful showdown in Gorgie, while manager Lee Johnson confirmed afterwards that on-loan Burnley defender CJ Egan-Riley, who suffered a hamstring injury in Wednesday’s win over Celtic, will be out well into the new campaign.
The injury to Cadden is of most concern, however, with players typically out for the best part of a year when damaging their Achilles.
“Not good, they look like bad ones, so our thoughts go out to them,” said Johnson when asked for an update after the Hearts match.
“I think Jake’s dislocated his shoulder and Cadds may have ruptured his Achilles, so that’s not good, obviously.
“With CJ’s hamstring as well, it looks like he’s going to be out for three or four months, so that’s three big players.
“Two are on contract but one potentially we could have got back next year, so we will have to rethink with a short summer ahead of us.”
Despite playing for an hour with an extra man after Alex Cochrane’s dismissal, Hibs – who equalised through Kevin Nisbet after Yutaro Oda’s early opener – were unable to find the winner that would have lifted them above Hearts into fourth place in the table and guaranteed them European football next term.
The fifth-placed Hibees will still get a crack at the Europa Conference League as long as Celtic beat Inverness in next Saturday’s Scottish Cup final.
“I’m proud of the second half of the season,” said Johnson, reflecting on his first campaign at Easter Road.
“If I look at the big picture now of where we are compared to where we were, we’re in a fantastic place to progress.
“I will make changes over the summer, without a question of a doubt, there will be ins and outs. I’m not finished, we’re not finished.
“Everything is looking up, the points tally (eight out of 15) in the top six has been good.
“I felt we should have beaten Aberdeen which potentially could have been another two points.
“We’ve got the summer to build that 30 per cent within the squad that we’re after – a bit more quality, change the dynamic a little bit, freshen the group up and then we go again.”
Steven Naismith, who oversaw two wins, three draws and two defeats in his seven games in interim charge of Hearts, declared himself “ready for management”.
“This period was definitely a big indicator,” said the 36-year-old.
“I have spoken to clubs in the past but you have this feeling of ‘am I ready?’, And every manager I’ve spoken to has said that if you could coach for 10 years you will never know when you’re ready, but what this has done is give me a taste of it and I know I’m ready and I think I’ve shown that.
“These are the five hardest fixtures of the season, at a time when the squad is really low and I’m proud of what we’ve done. I’m ready for it.
“The conversations will now start to see whether I’m the man to take Hearts forward or not but I’m looking forward to those conversations.”