HIBS winger Martin Boyle is set to discover his World Cup fate within 24 hours after scans revealed a potential issue with his knee.
The Australia international has been sent to Manchester for further examination on a problem which forced him off during Saturday’s 3-0 win over St Mirren.
Hibs manager Lee Johnson initially hoped the accidental collision with team-mate Nohan Kenneh was just an impact injury to the top of his shin.
However, scans have shown an anomaly in the knee and Hibs are hoping to get a definitive prognosis from a specialist by Thursday.
A potential lay-off has come at the worst time for the 29-year-old, with the World Cup in Qatar just over two weeks away.
Johnson, whose team travel to Aberdeen on Friday, said: “Martin went down to see a top specialist and actually an Australian medical professional is also accompanying him with our physios as well.
“Hopefully we get an answer within 24 hours, by the post match press at Aberdeen I will be able to give you greater clarity.
“Rather than being central in the knee it is more like the junction, like the meniscus area.
“At the back of that area there is a bit of something else that is showing on the scan, although it is not presenting that way.
“So it could be something that has potentially been there from the past.
“If you look at him walking and bouncing around then he seems like he is in a good place but that is why we have sent him to the specialist.
“We are hopeful but it is still 50-50 until we get a firm prognosis.
“Of course we hope he is okay for the World Cup. If he has to miss that, well, that’s something you wouldn’t wish on anybody.
“But I won’t apologise for my first thoughts being Hibs because he is a very, very good player for us and will be sorely missed if he is not in the team. We want him there.”
Johnson is hoping to avoid any club versus country row with regards to Boyle should any potential lay-off have to be managed.
He added: “Hopefully we won’t get to that point. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.
“He has to be it, whether that is for Australia or us, he has to be fit and we have a duty of care to the player.”
Johnson, meanwhile, has urged Ryan Porteous to rise about any hostility shown to him by the Aberdeen supporters at Pittodrie.
Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin launched a scathing attack on the Scotland international in the wake of his team’s defeat at Easter Road in September.
Goodwin accused the defender of “conning” referee David Dickinson over the penalty he won in a tussle with Liam Scales, which led to the Dons player being shown a second yellow card.
Goodwin is banned from the touchline for Aberdeen’s next two games after the club appealed against the initial six-game ban he received from the Scottish FA over the comments.
Johnson said: “I think it’s part of his progression dealing with hostile crowds. I don’t know the mentality going into the game.
“You’re telling me the home crowd will be hostile towards Ryan but I think he’s just got to keep on doing what he’s been doing; defend the box really well and make sure that outside the box he’s showing his class and quality on the ball, his communication, good decision-making.”
Johnson, meanwhile, insists striker Harry McKirdy was just looking for a “bit of love” over a controversial Instagram comment.
Responding on an official Swindon Town post to a fan who told him ‘Time to come back now’, McKirdy replied ‘not wrong’.
That triggered an inevitable backlash from Hibs fans across social media platforms.
The 25-year-old missed the weekend’s clash with St Mirren due to a thigh injury and has only managed one Premiership start for Hibs since making the move from Swindon on transfer deadline day during the summer.
Johnson added: “It registered more with me once I heard the fans were angry about it.
“I personally perceived it as a player who has done well at a previous club and was showing his support and fishing for compliments and a bit of love – not necessarily detrimental to where he is.
“But if that was the case then we’ve got to have the conversation and we look to move people on if they’re not happy.
“But that certainly wasn’t the case when I had the conversation with him; I think he’s very grateful for the reception he’s had from the fans and people around the city.
“If anything, he’s probably frustrated with himself and his body that he hasn’t been able to maximise what he sees as the true version of himself for the supporters and for the club.”