The 36-year-old winger has already missed almost five months of the season due to the recurrence of a knee injury and described that spell on the sidelines as one of the worst periods of his career, confessing it had led him to ponder retirement. He had bounced back, proving a positive influence as Hibs turned around results and moved to within five points of third-placed Hearts in the Premiership. But, pulling up just 36 minutes into the recent victory over Kilmarnock, the club have revealed that his season is over.
“It’s a tough one. We haven’t got the exact timescale yet, but he went to see a specialist on Thursday and they’re just deciding whether or not the hamstring requires surgery,” explained manager Lee Johnson. “It’s definitely going to be four months or, potentially, six months if surgery is required. He’s actually going to see another specialist early next week in London to decide on an operation or not.”
Out of contract at the end of the current campaign, Johnson acknowledged that decisions now have to be made about the future, although, having been forced to end his playing career early due to injury, he says he would never be the one to rush anyone else down that path.
“We’ve not had any conversations [over his contract],” said Johnson. “I know we’ve got a 36-year-old, and he hasn’t played an awful lot of football over the last 18 months, but we know he’s got that top-end quality at the top end of the pitch. We’d worked hard to get him fit and he’d worked extremely hard to get himself fit, and a flying Aiden McGeady, probably outside the games against the Old Firm, is worth a goal a game in some respects, whether that’s an assist or a secondary assist or a goal.
“I’m due to have a conversation on the big-picture stuff and we really just want to help him now. Whatever he decides, if he wants to make a full return to playing then absolutely we’ll support that. If he decides differently then we’ll support that and start him on a different journey. He’s doing a sporting director’s course and I know he’s taking the first part of his coaching badges as well. Obviously, he’s got a lot of experience to give in football, and whether that be another year or two as a player or whether that be stepping into a new adventure.
“It’s not easy to do that. I did it early based on an injury I had, and the timing was right. But when you love playing, like I did and like Aiden does, then it’s difficult to give up. I would never, ever retire a football player. It’s up to them to decide when the time is right or not.”
While McGeady will miss the remainder of the season, both Kevin Nisbet and Mykola Kuharevich could be poised for a return away at Livingston on Saturday afternoon after making advances in training and coming through 60 minutes of a bounce game. But Joe Newell, Jake Doyle-Hayes and Kyle Magennis will miss out, with another couple of unnamed players also doubts.