Hibs boss to field strongest side against Berwick

Alan Stubbs
Alan Stubbs
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ALAN STUBBS today revealed Hibs’ promotion bid will be put on hold as he aims to take 
another step towards ending the club’s 113-year wait for Scottish Cup glory.

The Capital club have crucial Championship matches against Livingston and Cowdenbeath within days of Sunday’s quarter-final against Berwick Rangers but Stubbs insisted the battle for a play-off place will be forgotten for the time being, his entire focus on securing a place in the last four of the cup. That means a full-strength side will be fielded against Colin Cameron’s part-timers to limit the chances of the League Two club pulling off a shock.

Stubbs said: “I don’t believe in putting out weakened teams in cup games, fans pay good money to see the team winning games and my priority is to try to win every game whether it’s in the cup or the league.

“In football, you never know what might happen if you try to play God and think three or four games down the line. It’s one game at a time not looking at three or the Rangers match in two weeks time. We have three games before that one, a lot of things can happen.”

Stubbs is well aware that many are asking whether Hibs would take cup glory ahead of promotion, but that’s one

question he’s happy to sidestep, pointing out that his side are well-equipped to do battle on both fronts, believing whatever 11 he names are well capable of winning any particular match.

But, he insisted, as long as Hibs remain in the Scottish Cup they are entitled to believe that this, finally, could be their year.

The head coach revealed he was astonished to learn the Capital club haven’t got their hands on that particular piece of silverware since 1902 and admitted it would be “fantastic” for the manager and team which eventually ends that long, long wait. However, while agreeing that should his players

negotiate their way past Berwick much would then depend on the semi-final draw, Stubbs said: “As long as we are still in it we have to think ‘this could be the year’. It’s surprising the club hasn’t won the cup in all that time when you consider it’s won the league, other cups and been in Europe.

“I have to be honest and say it would be fantastic.”

However, while adamant everyone is allowed to dream, Stubbs insisted his players look no further than Sunday’s lunch-time clash. He said: “We have a game to win, that’s the mindset of the boys. We have to be not just professional but treat the game as if we are playing a team in the division above us.

“The focus of everyone is on Sunday. If we win, we’ll be a step closer, in the hat and we’ll see what the draw brings.”

And he appealed to the Hibs support to turn out in numbers, saying: “We want a big crowd, we want a really big turnout. Slowly but surely they have ben coming back, they can really see the team is playing well. They have an optimism for the first time in a while, now we need to capitalise on that.”