Hibs will head into their post-split programme without Ryan McGivern after the Northern Ireland defender was hit with a one-match ban.
The on-loan Manchester City player picked up his sixth booking of the season during the recent defeat by Inverness, automatically incurring the punishment which comes into effect this Saturday.
However, as the penalty is restricted to SPL matches only, McGivern will be free to play in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final clash with First Division Falkirk at Hampden before sitting out Hibs’ first post-split game.
The Easter Road side have been left guessing as to who the opposition will be that day after the SPL delayed the release of the fixtures. Clubs had hoped to learn yesterday of the intended schedule, the first games of which will take place on April 20 and 21, but consultations with police and broadcast partners mean they weren’t likely to be published until later today.
With both Capital clubs in the bottom six, Hibs boss Pat Fenlon and his Tynecastle counterpart Gary Locke will view the final programme with interest as the SPL seek to balance the number of home and away matches, namely 19, played by each team. Hibs had enjoyed just 16 home games and Hearts 17 when the split came into force after the 33rd round of fixtures at the weekend, leaving Fenlon and his players to anticipate three out of their final five matches taking place at Easter Road while the Jambos will be counting on only two more games in Gorgie.
There is, though, a problem facing the administrators as they seek to strike that home/away balance. While a second visit from Aberdeen and St Mirren appears pretty straight forward, matters are complicated somewhat by the fact Hibs have already hosted the bottom six’s other three clubs – Hearts, Kilmarnock and Dundee twice, leaving one of them with the prospect of a third trip to Easter Road.
It would appear inconceivable, however, that the authorities would demand that Hearts be that team given the furore that would cause, leaving either Killie or Dundee more likely to be requested to do so.
Drawing up Hearts’ final run of games will also have proved a touch problematical with a similar difficulty having arisen. Given that Killie and Dundee have already each played twice at Tynecastle this season it would be reasonable to assume trips to Rugby Park and Dens Park would constitute two of Hearts’ remaining away games.
However, to compile a programme which gives the Gorgie outfit 19 away fixtures, a third match “on the road” would need to be found. But Hibs, Aberdeen and St Mirren have all only played once at Tynecastle this season, leaving Locke and co to contemplate playing a third away game against one of those three opponents, almost certainly either the Dons or the Buddies.
n FORMER Hibs boss
Bobby Williamson has been sacked as manager of the
Ugandan national team.