Hibs boss Alan Stubbs has told his players tonight’s final pre-season friendly against East Fife is their last chance to book a place in the team for Ibrox next Tuesday.
New signings Mark Oxley and Scott Allan are expected to start at Bayview along with former Newcastle United midfielder Michael Robertson, who will play as a trialist as he did as a substitute in Sunday’s defeat by Dundee United. Stubbs will also take the opportunity presented by the Easter Road club’s sixth warm-up match to top up the game time of a number of his squad but, he revealed, he’s still to decide on his starting line-up for the Petrofac Training Cup clash with Rangers.
That first-round tie was postponed for ten days with the Govan ground being used to stage the Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens tournament, a move which Stubbs admitted had worked out well for Hibs. He said: “It’s been great. It’s given me extra time to be able to focus and work on my squad and after tonight’s match we will start to work on the team towards Tuesday.
“I have a little bit of an idea but my mind is not made up. I said before Sunday’s game to the players that all places are up for grabs and that will be the same with the team that starts tonight.
“We will get that out of the way, look to perform in the way we have been doing and then there will be a chance for me to digest everything we have done over the past six weeks and then prepare the squad for Tuesday.”
Oxley played the full 90 minutes as a trialist against United and has now clinched a six-month loan deal with the Edinburgh club. Stubbs has insisted the 23-year-old had been his first choice to become Hibs No. 1. He said: “I have looked at a lot of footage of goalkeepers over the last four to six weeks. Mark was a name put to me three or four weeks ago and for one reason or another the deal could not happen, one factor being he was away in Portugal with Hull for pre-season.
“I spoke to Steve Bruce [Hull’s manager] about him to get some character reference, what he was like as an individual and then about him as a goalkeeper. Steve did not have anything but positive things to say about Mark which complemented my thoughts that he was the one I wanted.
“He is a big strapping lad, one that I would not want like to go into a challenge with in the box.”