Hibs boss not contemplating cup giantkilling

Alan Stubb. Picture: SNS

Alan Stubb. Picture: SNS

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Hibs boss Alan Stubbs today revealed he hasn’t given the possibility of a Scottish Cup shock a second thought because his players are now going into every game knowing they can win.

The Easter Road head coach agreed the Capital club should be regarded as overwhelming favourites to beat League Two outfit Berwick Rangers on Sunday and secure their place in the semi-finals, claiming it would take a combination of a “really off” day from his team and a “really good” day from Berwick to cause an upset.

But, he insisted, that doesn’t mean he is taking the threat posed by Colin Cameron’s part-timers lightly, saying: “They have got to this stage for a reason. It doesn’t make any difference who they have played, they are in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup and that in itself, if it was needed, reminds us we are in for a tough game.

“We are very mindful that we do not want to be on the end of an upset but we haven’t spoken about it because the confidence of the group is very good, the mindset of the players going into every game is not just believing they can win every game but knowing they can.

“It’s a matter of reminding them to do the basics right, to keep doing the things they have been doing, the things that have got them into the position they are in. There’s no doubts about their approach and professionalism. It’s going to be tough but if we play as well as we can we have a good chance of progressing to the next round.

“We should be going into the game as favourites. If you look at the two teams on paper we have the better squad, you cannot hide that fact. But you have to look at it that on any given day anyone can beat anyone. However, I think we would have to have a really off day and Berwick have a really good day for that to happen.

“We know what is at stake, we are still in the cup, we want to progress to the next round and we want to go all the way. There’s nothing wrong in saying that, the players know exactly what is expected, we want to get to Hampden – but let’s focus on Sunday before thinking anything like that.”

Hibs fans know from bitter experience that the mantle of favourites doesn’t often sit well on the shoulders of those wearing green shirts, but Stubbs believes the experiences of this season when they’ve been expected to win almost every week has added a steely resolve to his players.

He said: “We’ve been expected to win the majority of games and that brings a different type of pressure, that’s been there in the last 20-plus games but they’ve been beaten just once [over 90 minutes] in 24 and are unbeaten in 11.

“They are used to that pressure – if that’s what you call it.”

Stubbs has built up a complete dossier on Berwick, taking in their replay victory over Spartans in the previous round. He said: “They have individual players who are good footballers, they are going to have the opportunity to come to a great stadium and cause an upset. They are going to play with no fear, they know they are the underdogs and the pressure is not on them whatsoever.

“That in itself is a problem from our point of view, but we have to make sure we don’t give them any impetus or confidence to grow into the game. We have to start the game on the front foot, show them what it’s like to come to big grounds and try to get a result.”