MOTHERWELL’S preparations for the new season have been rocked once more by injury problems, with Ryan Bowman becoming their latest player to face a lengthy lay-off.

The striker was injured by a wild tackle from Queen of the South defender Callum Semple in the Betfred Cup last week and sat out the weekend win over Clyde, but the knock to his ankle is worse than initially feared meaning he will be out for around six weeks.

With Charles Dunne already out long-term, Chris Cadden a major doubt and Allan Campbell suspended, it leaves manager Stephen Robinson with a headache going into the Ladbrokes Premiership curtain-raiser against Hibernian at Easter Road on Sunday.

"Before his injury, Ryan was probably our best forward – he was playing so well,” Robinson sighed.

"Chris Cadden is tentatively being brought back into training over the next day or so. I'm hopeful he will be fit for Sunday, but these are the things you just need to deal with in football.

"Allan Campbell is also suspended but this is when other players need to step up.

"It is frustrating that we are missing players for the first game, but 90 per cent of managers are probably in the same position.

"They possibly have bigger squads to choose from, but we won't use it as an excuse.

"Yes, we have lost some influential players, but people need to step up. It's as simple as that.”

The task awaiting Motherwell in the capital is a daunting enough one without having to contend with personnel issues, but Robinson is relishing the challenge of trying to stymie Neil Lennon’s free-scoring side.

"It's not an easy start for us against Hibs away,” he said. “I watched them last week in Europe and they showed great character to come back and win.

"It's tough but it's also a great start – playing at Easter Road in front of a big crowd.

"It's an exciting game and they always tend to be open against Hibs. That's not to my liking and probably not to Lenny's liking, but it's always interesting.

"There tends to be a lot of goals and excitement when you play Hibs, but hopefully it's not too open this time.

"Hibs are a good team and they have threats on that big pitch at Easter Road.

"Martin Boyle and Florian Kamberi try to run in behind but we need to be ready for that and also look to expose them at the other end.

"I like watching Hibs play as they do score and concede, but that's something Lenny will be looking to rectify.

"They try to outscore teams and they have the ability to do that, so we need to be disciplined and organised.”

Despite his selection issues, Robinson is taking confidence from the way his side dug their way through their Betfred Cup group ahead of the Hibs game, believing there is much more to come from his team.

"I've been pleased with the outcomes of the four Betfred Cup games,” he said.

"We are in a results business and we haven't lost a game. We scored goals and created chances, but I do think we can get better. There is improvement to come.

"But all our strikers have been scoring goals and that's pleasing.

"The cup games are effectively our pre-season and there have been rusty decisions while people are still trying to get their maximum fitness.

"That is an area that we have to keep improving and we know we have to step it up against Hibs.”