Terry Butcher has told his sidelined Hibs players to keep themselves in peak condition so that they can seize their chance when it comes along.
Having inherited one of the biggest squads in the Scottish Premiership when he replaced Pat Fenlon as manager two months ago, Butcher has fielded a largely unchanged starting XI in his nine games in charge.
This has left several players kicking their heels on the sidelines, with the likes of Owain Tudur Jones, Danny Handling and Abdellah Zoubir regulars on the subs’ bench, while Rowan Vine, Kevin Thomson, Tim Clancy and Tom Taiwo – players who reports today suggest are set for the Easter Road exit door – have barely featured in the matchday squad under Butcher.
The manager welcomed the competition for places and encouraged those not involved as much as they would like to keep putting pressure on those in possession of the jerseys.
He told the Evening News: “It’s a case of everyone who’s not in the team trying to get into the team and for everyone who’s in the team to do enough to stay in the team. There’s fierce competition right throughout the team which I’m very pleased about. The guys who are not in the match-day squad at the moment have just got to keep themselves fit and try and force their way into the squad – it’s as simple as that.
“There are a lot of players vying for most positions and it’s normally the best man that wins, but I’ve been very pleased with the attitude of everyone here. It gives me good options if I’ve got lots of players who are desperate to be in the team.”
While Butcher has generally stuck with the same group of players who have lost only one of his nine games in charge, he explained that he isn’t averse to tweaking a winning team, as evidenced by the fact he replaced James Cummings with Paul Heffernan for Sunday’s trip to Dundee United. He said: “If the ones in possession of the shirts continue doing what they’re doing, then they’ll probably play, but I look at each game on its own merits and if I feel the need to make a change then I will.”
Butcher is working towards making signings this month. “There’s always something happening transfer-wise but nothing for public consumption at the moment,” he added.