Hibernian striker Kevin Nisbet faces a long road back to fitness after being ruled out for seven to nine months following surgery on a knee injury.
Easter Road boss Shaun Maloney revealed the Scotland forward went under the knife on Thursday to repair the injury sustained against Celtic two weeks ago when he was initially thought to be sidelined for the rest of the season.
Ahead of the Scottish Cup quarter-final against Motherwell at Fir Park on Sunday, Maloney confirmed the length of Nisbet’s absence but believes the possibility of a place in Steve Clarke’s squad should Scotland reach the Qatar World Cup finals will act as motivation for recovery.
Nisbet was injured in a challenge with Celtic defender Carl Starfelt
The Hibs boss said: “Kevin got surgery yesterday in London. It went very well.
“Unfortunately it was an ACL injury so Kevin will be out seven to nine months. But he is still very motivated.
“If, and I think we are all hoping Scotland qualify for the World Cup, then he can still make that squad.
“Speaking to him, he is very motivated to come back a better player and there is no reason, and I have said this to him, that he can’t think that he comes back and be the best striker in the league.
Highlights of the Scottish Premiership match between Hibernian and Celtic
“There is a lot of work to do. It is a lonely journey but we will be there every step of the way for him.
“He was very disappointed in the last couple of weeks, but I noticed that when I went to see him in London there was a slight change of disappointment to now getting motivated.
“It is very tedious the first few months with his injury, but all the work he has to do will benefit him in the long run and he has to be very motivated to come back as the best striker in the league and achieve something with the national team, and there is absolutely no reason he can’t do that.”