Craig Brown has warned Aberdeen they’ll be taking a step into the unknown tomorrow as they face Pat Fenlon’s new-look Hibs side.
Fenlon has transformed the squad he inherited from Colin Calderwood by bringing in eight new players during the transfer window and that has put his Pittodrie counterpart on red alert.
While new skipper James McPake is suspended along with Paul Hanlon and Leigh Griffiths, Fenlon could field seven of his new arrivals tomorrow, with Brown admitting he’s particularly wary of Honduran internationalist Jorge Claros who is in line to make his debut after clinching the necessary work permit.
Brown, named Clydesdale Bank Premier League Manager of the Month for January, said: “Hibs have made a number of changes and it makes them more dangerous opponents. They have a couple of players suspended, but with eight new players brought in there will be a few wild cards for us to deal with. I know some of the players but the Honduran signing is one I don’t know.”
Brown insisted Fenlon’s signings will be desperate to prove themselves not only to their new manager but believes confidence will already have soared within the Easter Road dressing-room following Hibs’ William Hill Scottish Cup triumph over Kilmarnock, a win marked by the first appearances of Pa Kujabi, Matt Doherty and Roy O’Donovan.
He said: “Whenever a manger makes a signing, he talks positively about the player, but any newcomer has to prove himself. The new players who beat Kilmarnock did well and their confidence will have increased as a result.”
And Brown feels that despite relegation rivals Dunfermline hauling themselves level on points with Hibs following their 1-1 draw against Killie – only goal difference now separates the two sides – Fenlon’s team remain a tough team to crack.
He said: “Their league position would suggest they have struggled, but they are formidable opponents and a side I believe are stronger than the one we faced last season. We won twice at Easter Road last season and drew with them down there earlier in this campaign which means we can go there with confidence.
“But we know we will have to be up for it against a side with so many new players eager to impress.”
Having been forced to travel abroad to gain the necessary paperwork entitling him to work in this country, 26-year-old midfield star Claros trained with his new team-mates yesterday and Fenlon revealed the one-time Rangers target is in line to make his Easter Road bow.
He said: “The temptaton is to play him because he’s a quality player, but he’s had a fair bit of travelling to do. “Jorge can make an impact for us. He’s the type of player we need in the team at the moment, someone to put his foot on the ball and slow things down. We’ll make a decision later today.”
A controversial Scott Vernon penalty earned the Dons the points the last time the clubs met, Aberdeen having been beaten just once since in a run which has pushed them into the SPL’s top six. Fenlon said: “Aberdeen are a good example of what can be done if you put a few results together.”