Hibs boss gets double fitness boost for Motherwell clash

Pat Fenlon
Pat Fenlon
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Hibs received a boost ahead of tonight’s SPL clash at Motherwell as Matt Doherty and Tom Soares were both declared fit to play.

Doherty required stitches for a head knock after being struck by Anthony Stokes’ flailing elbow during Saturday’s defeat by Celtic, while Soares has missed Hibs’ last two games with a hamstring injury.

However, both are in contention for this evening’s trip to Fir Park, although Callum Booth, Danny Galbraith and Ian Murray are still missing for Hibs.

“Matt Doherty got a few stitches in his eye on Sunday morning, but he’s okay – he trained yesterday,” said Hibs boss Pat Fenlon. “Tom Soares has trained for the last few days and he’ll go into the squad for tonight. Callum, Danny and Ian Murray are still out, but everyone else is okay.”

Dunfermline Athletic, level on points with Fenlon’s men at the foot of the SPL table, face a daunting trip to Celtic Park tonight, and Hibs have a chance to draw clear of their Fife rivals. Fenlon insists the prospect of victory for the Easter Road side tonight against third-place Motherwell is far more realistic than against the likes of Celtic, who humbled Hibs 5-0 in Edinburgh at the weekend.

He said: “We’ve got other games ahead that we definitely have to get something out of. Although, Motherwell are probably looking at it saying they can maybe be the second best team in Scotland this year. That would be a fantastic achievement for them if they can do that, but I firmly believe we’re capable of matching most of the other teams.”

Gaining three points tonight would serve Hibs well in their bid for top-flight survival, and Fenlon sees no bigger incentive for his team to achieve that aim than the prospect of players and staff losing their jobs should the Capital club suffer a second relegation in 15 years. “We know we’re going into a tough game,” said Fenlon. “There’s a big incentive for them, but there’s a bigger incentive for us. You’re talking about everybody’s livelihood here, and if that’s not an incentive for people, you’re wasting your time. People have got to realise that that’s what’s on the line here.”

“You can win a couple of games on the bounce and it makes a big difference. You can even drag one or two other teams into it if either ourselves or Dunfermline – or both of us – did that. We haven’t been able to, but that’s what we have to try and do, win back-to-back games and see what happens.

“We’ve spoken about [relegation] and the consequences of it, and if we don’t survive it’s massive for everyone, including the players. The goal is to stay in the league and whatever it takes to win football matches, that’s what we have to produce.”