Hibs caretaker boss Billy Brown today admitted he’d taken a gamble in playing Michael Hart for the first time in seven months – but insisted it was a risk well worth taking.
Hart was given a surprise call to action for the visit of Kilmarnock, the 31-year-old having been sidelined by injury since the beginning of April.
And although Hart was replaced at half-time by Richie Towell as changes were made in what was to prove to be a successful bid to claw back Manuel Pascali’s goal for Killie, Brown was delighted with the full back’s contribution.
Brown said: “I feel the right back position has chopped and changed all season. We’ve had David Wotherspoon, Victor Palsson and Richie Towell in there but the one thing they all have in common is that they are not a right back as such, they are midfield players.
“We have to get everyone into their right positions, not square pegs in round holes. I want a settled back four and against Killie I wanted to keep it tight at the back and not lose a goal early as we had done against Motherwell and Dunfermline.
“But when you have won only once at home in nine months when is it a gamble? I have to make decisions, whether they are the right ones you don’t know. It was a bit of a gamble, it was asking a lot of him but it was my responsibility.
“One thing about us is that we are quite a quiet team, especially at the back. Michael does talk to people, he organises and shouts a bit, that was the idea.”
Hart, who has been struck with a succession of injuries since facing Celtic in April, will continue his comeback with a bounce game this week in which he’ll be joined by club skipper Ian Murray, Callum Booth and Sean Welsh. Brown said: “Michael will come on with that half against Kilmarnock. He went about the game in the right manner and took the substitution the right way. It’s all about the team and if we can get Michael fit he is another option.
“In our position, everyone is going to have to play their part.”
Brown remains in the running to be named manager on a permanent basis, but his former sidekick Jim Jefferies, whom Brown assisted at Hearts, is thought not to be on Hibs’ shortlist as the Easter Road club narrows its search for a new boss.
Jefferies says he has neither applied for the vacant position nor received an approach from Hibs.
“If someone in an official capacity phoned me, I will tell them whether I am interested or not – that has never happened. I don’t anticipate it happening because you would think it might have been done by now.”
Jefferies, who revealed he has been contacted regarding a vacancy abroad, added his backing to the call for his long-time No. 2 and current Hibs caretaker Brown to be handed the top job at the Leith club.
“Billy’s gone in there and, for me, because he is the man in position, he has a real chance,” said Jefferies.