Shaun Maloney hails Lewis Stevenson’s versatility as injuries bite for Hibernian

Hibernian v Arsenal – Pre Season Friendly – Easter Road
(Image credit: Ian Rutherford)

Shaun Maloney has praised versatile veteran Lewis Stevenson for helping lead Hibernian through a testing period of injuries to key men.

Demetri Mitchell this week joined a list of absentees that already included captain Paul Hanlon, deputy skipper Paul McGinn, recently-recruited centre-back Harry Clarke and key midfielders Joe Newell and Kyle Magennis.

As a result, long-serving 34-year-old Stevenson, primarily a left-back, has been asked to fill voids at centre-back and in central midfield in recent matches, while also wearing the captain’s armband.

“It’s a shame to lose Demetri because he felt like he was getting back to his best condition and he was doing very well for us,” said Maloney, who is waiting to learn the full extent of Mitchell’s injury. “It’s hard on the squad because we’ve got six really important senior players missing.

“It’s maybe a bit of bad luck that they’ve all happened at the one time but we just have to deal with it.

“I don’t want to labour the fact too much because we’ve got other good players in the squad but it definitely makes it harder for the squad, particularly when we’ve had lots of midweek games. We’ve had to use players in two or three different positions, players like Lewis Stevenson.

“Lewis has been excellent for me. He’s showing attributes I knew he had but to do it in a number six position is very good. He certainly helps bring up the average age of the squad because otherwise we’ve got a very young outfield 10 at the moment. I can’t speak highly enough of him. Even in terms of wearing the armband, he’s taken it to a new level.”

Hibs, who are currently seventh in the cinch Premiership, ended a run of five games without a win when they defeated Arbroath in the Scottish Cup last weekend. Maloney, whose side host Ross County on Saturday, hopes that victory can help spark his team into form as they chase a top-four finish.

“It was a big lift for the players,” he said. “Momentum in football is a big thing so hopefully we can take that forward into this weekend. We have to take positive results from our home games because we’ve missed that opportunity twice now in recent home homes games and in both games we had the opportunity to go to fourth.

“Fourth place is still possible for a few teams now. We have to fight to get into the top six first but fourth is still up for grabs. We have to look to improve our home form, though, because that’s going to be vital to get the top six or the top four.”

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