Hibs boss Terry Butcher today insisted a visit from champions Celtic, seeking an 11th consecutive Scottish Premiership win, doesn’t hold any fears for his Easter Road side, declaring: “Bring it on.”
While many would feel that a match with the runaway leaders was the last thing the Capital club needed following, in Butcher’s own words, a “shambolic” first-half performance against St Mirren, the big Englishman claimed he can’t wait for Sunday’s clash.
Pointing out that Hibs are one of only three sides to have taken a point from the Glasgow giants this season – a 1-1 draw in Edinburgh in mid-October – Butcher said: “I think it is a great game, the ideal match for us and one to look forward to.
“You look forward to Celtic matches at any time, but even more so now we are at home and it’s live on television. The last game here Hibs played very well, were very strong and put in a physical performance which I don’t think Celtic enjoyed. We battled for the point and are one of only three teams to have drawn with them this season, which is a big feather in the club’s cap.
“Also, in the 1-0 defeat we had at Parkhead, it was a good, battling second-half performance when we certainly pushed Celtic back and were going forward towards the final whistle. So the games have been very tight and again on Sunday we want to be in the game as long as we can and then see what happens.
“Against Celtic you have to be tight, compact and together because if you are not you will get a beating. Celtic have already come to the Capital and demolished Hearts. They’ve demolished a lot of other teams in the league and we do not want to be another on that long list. We want them to fight for the right to play and we’ll fight and scrap like we have done before.”
Hibs will go into the match missing the injured trio of Paul Hanlon, Ryan McGivern and Danny Handling while Scott Robertson is suspended, absences which will limit Butcher’s options.
However, the manager hopes his selection headache might be eased by a new arrival before the weekend although he admitted that while he and his backroom team are working hard to secure players, most likely on loan deals, there was no guarantee that timescale would be met.
He revealed that the players had reacted in a positive manner to the flak directed at them in the wake of their 3-2 defeat by the Saints, Hibs having been three goals down within the opening half-an-hour.
“We were looking for a good reaction and I must say it’s been a brilliant reaction. In the latter part of the week we will taper things down, decide what we are going to do and work on that. We have the extra day with the game being on Sunday which gives us Friday and Saturday to work on things.
“We’d also like to get someone in before the weekend but if we do not we will crack on with what we have got. We have a fortnight after this weekend before our next game so if it doesn’t happen this week then hopefully it will next week.”