Hibs boss backs players to reach Hampden

Alan Stubbs says his players can atone for last year's defeat in the semi-final by Falkirk

Alan Stubbs says his players can atone for last year's defeat in the semi-final by Falkirk

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Alan Stubbs has backed his players to shrug off the disappointment of last season’s Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by claiming a place in the final of the League Cup.

The Easter Road outfit were beaten 1-0 by Falkirk at Hampden despite dominating the match but today’s Utilita Energy League Cup semi-final against St Johnstone gives his side – seven of whom faced the Bairns – the chance to make amends.

Stubbs admitted their minds may turn to that match as they run out at Tynecastle, but the head coach believes those memories will quickly be replaced by a burning desire to make the final on March 13 for a showdown against either Celtic or Ross County.

The head coach said: “It’s a different game, another opportunity to get to another final. It’s going to be difficult, St Johstone are a Premiership side. I’ve seen them a number of times, they are well-organised, experienced and have some quality players in forwards positions that can hurt you.

“They are one of those teams that are always in games. They don’t give a lot away, they soak up a lot of pressure then hit teams on the counter with quality so we have to make sure we are 100 per cent concentrated on our jobs.”

And Stubbs rejected the suggestion that last season’s semi-final defeat by Falkirk was another example of Hibs lacking “bottle”, saying: “Sometimes on a big occasion you can freeze on the day but we didn’t. It was just a day that was not meant to be.

“We have done pretty well in cups, the quarter-finals of the League Cup last year only to be knocked out on penalties by Dundee United; the semi-final of the Scottish Cup when we performed well but unfortunately it was one of those days, today we have to make sure this isn’t one of those days.”

Hibs have already knocked Premiership sides Aberdeen and Dundee United out of this season’s competition but while admitting that won’t do his players’ confidence any harm, Stubbs questioned just how much relevance those results have on today’s game.

“He said: “We have two teams trying to get to a final irrespective of what division they are in. I am very confident my players will perform. We just have to focus on making sure we perform, I have no doubt about that whatsoever.

“I fully trust the players, I have got a very talented group but I know we are going to have to perform as well as we have this season to come through this game - there’s no denying that. But I really think we can do it.”