Hibs star Scott Robertson has been hit with a one-match ban and will miss the visit of champions Celtic a week on Saturday after picking up his sixth booking of the season.
But today boss Terry Butcher revealed Robertson’s absence – having been shown the yellow card for a first-half foul on Aberdeen’s Peter Pawlett as the Capital club slipped to a 1-0 defeat at Pittodrie – could pave the way for teenager Sam Stanton to finally start a match.
The youngster has stepped off the bench in each of Hibs’ last three matches, taking his tally of appearances for the season to 14, all of them as a substitute. However, he has impressed Butcher in those matches against Hearts, Dundee United and the Dons and also daily in training. The Hibs manager insists he would have no hesitation in starting Stanton against Celtic.
Stanton replaced Roberson, right, for the final 26 minutes on Friday night as Butcher attempted to prise all three points from the game, and was later joined on the pitch by fellow teenagers Jason Cummings and Alex Harris, making his comeback after five months on the sidelines with a broken ankle.
However, a last-gasp strike from Aberdeen’s Willo Flood saw Hibs suffer only their second loss in ten matches since Butcher took control in November. The fact those two defeats, by a single goal away from home on each occasion, have been inflicted by the Scottish Premiership’s leading two sides is of little consolation to the big Englishman.
He was, though, heartened by the displays of the kids, saying: “I thought they did well, particularly Sam. I thought he looked great, his appetite for the game. I’ve always liked him as a player although I left him out of the first team squad when I first came. I left him with the Under-20s because you have to earn the right to be in there.
“He’s certainly done that in the games he has played and the way he’s gone about his training. He has a good future. He has energy, good legs and he flits about the park. He’s enthusiastic, has a good touch and he’s shown when he’s come on he’s a threat going forward. He’s pretty close and with Scott suspended for the Celtic game he has a really good chance.
“It was good to see Alex back although I think he only got one touch of the ball while Jason gives you energy up front. It’s hard when you bring on young kids against hard, experienced players in a team that will, I am sure, finish second. But it gives them a sniff of it and when they get the chance they have to grab it with both hands.”