Alan Stubbs has urged his players to seize their chance to become lifelong Hibs heroes tomorrow.
The Easter Road side face Ross County in the League Cup final as they bid to secure silverware for the first time since winning the same competition nine years ago. Stubbs won several honours while playing for Celtic, but he knows the majority of his squad are yet to experience the thrill of collecting a major trophy.
“It’ll be a great day for me but I’m more interested in making it a great day for the players,” said the head coach. “I’ve been in their shoes. I know how good it can be and I want them to sample it because it’ll be something they can remember for the rest of their lives. It’s chances like this that you can’t let pass you by. You have to grab them with both hands because in this business you never know when the next one might be. It might never be.”
The fact Hibs have won only two major honours in the last 43 years underlines the magnitude of the chance the current team have to etch their names into club folklore. Stubbs insists his players, who will be backed by close to 30,000 supporters, should be driven by the chance to recreate scenes of glory at Hampden and in Leith that will be remembered for decades to come.
“People never remember the losers, they only remember the winners,” he said. “We want to be the winners. If we do that, we know we’ll see fantastic scenes at the end of the game. We don’t want to see the flip side of that. That should be the motivation. What we saw against Hearts at home [in the Scottish Cup last month] was good – in fact, it was better than good. If we were to see that at Hampden, it would be something that everybody would speak about for a long time.”
Stubbs insists he has not thought about how his team would celebrate if they win tomorrow. The spectre of an important Scottish Cup quarter-final replay in Inverness on Wednesday night means after-match partying will have to be kept within sensible realms. “We’ll see,” he said. “I’ve not even thought about what we’ll do. You have to enjoy the good times though. I’m not saying they would be allowed out but it would be a nice dilemma for me to have when the game finishes, hopefully.”
Stubbs’ team returned from a fruitful four-day training camp in Spain on Thursday night and had one training session at Easter Road yesterday afternoon. They travel to Mar Hall, near Glasgow, today and will train there before staying the night ahead of their shot at glory tomorrow. Stubbs is likely to inform his players of the starting XI in the morning. Dylan McGeouch, Danny Handling, Paul Hanlon and Danny Carmichael are all out injured while a late decision will be taken on whether Fraser Fyvie is fit enough for a place on the bench following almost six weeks out with medial ligament damage.