Hibs boss Pat Fenlon today admitted he will soon be facing a selection headache with Shefki Kuqi, Ryan McGivern and Tom Taiwo all set to push for a place in his team.
While Leigh Griffiths’s ankle injury forced Fenlon into changing his team for the first time in four matches as the Easter Road outfit stretched their unbeaten SPL run to six games with a draw against Inverness Caledonian Thistle, the Irishman believes he will have to make some tough decisions shortly.
To date, veteran Finnish striker Kuqi has found first-team appearances limited as he battles for full match fitness, and while on-loan Manchester City defender McGivern has been a regular substitute, he’s yet to taste any action, as has midfielder Taiwo, who hasn’t managed to force his way into Fenlon’s squad since arriving as a free agent. Fenlon, though, revealed that’s all about to change, saying: “I think we’re getting to the stage now where I am going to have a headache in relation to picking the team. Tom has trained really well, Shefki is improving fitness-wise and Ryan wants to play.
“It’s good competition and what it says to the players at the moment is that you have to be at the top of your game to make sure you stay in the team.
“We have plenty of talent that can come in to change the team. That comes down to me and management.”
Griffiths is set for a recall as Hibs travel to face Aberdeen tomorrow having rejoined his team-mates in training, with Fenlon insisting that although much has changed since his side’s last trip to Pittodrie, the goal remains the same.
On that occasion, at the beginning of May, Hibs headed north for a crunch match as they teetered on the brink of relegation, a threat they all but banished with a 2-1 win.
Tomorrow, the Capital club will arrive sitting second in the SPL table rather than one off the bottom, but with the manager demanding the same sort of performance as they produced under intense pressure a few months ago.
He said: “It’s a different situation, but still the same pressure going to Aberdeen. We want to go and win there. Last time we went up was a massive game for us. It was massive because, going there, people thought we might have fallen, but we didn’t and showed quite a bit of character on the night.
“We played well at times under the cosh a bit but to get out of it was fantastic. We would like to go up and perform to that level again, to the level we’ve been at since the start of the season.”
Such has been the overhaul conducted by Fenlon that only four players involved at Pittodrie in May – Paul Hanlon, Jorge Claros, David Wotherspoon and Griffiths – are likely to be in the starting line-up tomorrow, although Fenlon has been delighted to see his new-look side gel quicker than most might have expected.
He said: “We did our homework on the players before we brought them in so I know what type we were getting in and the quality.”
n FORMER Hibs striker Derek Riordan has signed a three-month deal with English League Two side Bristol Rovers having been without a club since a stint with St Johnstone finished at the end of last season.