Sean Murdoch has been put on standby for his first match of the season against Partick Thistle tomorrow as Hibs goalkeeper Ben Williams awaits the birth of his second child.
Williams’ wife Gemma was due last weekend and Easter Road boss Terry Butcher took the precaution of taking not only under-study Murdoch, but third-choice goalkeeper Paul Grant to Inverness on Wednesday in case his No. 1 got the call to head back to Edinburgh.
Today Butcher revealed Williams’ anxious wait was the reason behind the confusion as to who was to play in goal against Caley with the crowd in Inverness told Murdoch would be wearing the gloves, only to see Williams go in goal.
He said: “Ben’s wife is expecting at the moment and Ben wants to be at the birth which is perfectly understandable. So, because of the journey I’d drawn up two teamsheets, one with Ben in goal and Sean on the bench and the other with Sean in goal and Paul as substitute goalkeeper in case Ben got the call while we were on the way to Inverness.
“I handed the correct one to the referee, but inadvertently the one naming Sean as goalkeeper was given to Inverness. It was a genuine mistake on my part, one I hold my hands up to.
“It will be the same scenario tomorrow if need be, but I’ll be making sure I keep the two teamsheets apart.”
Murdoch has played only one first-team match in his two seasons at Easter Road, a 3-1 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park last May. That statistic is testament to Williams’ consistency, with the 31-year-old the only player to have played every minute of Hibs’ 35 matches so far this season.
Williams enjoyed his first clean sheet in 11 matches as Hibs fought out a goalless draw against Caley, a result which Butcher admitted had left Hibs’ top-six dream hanging by a thread as sixth-placed St Johnstone opened up a four-point gap as they beat Dundee United on the same night.
But while acknowledging it will be difficult to overhaul Saints, who also have a game in hand and a superior goal difference, Butcher says he won’t throw in the towel, particularly as Hibs have a trip to McDiarmid Park tomorrow week.
However, Butcher agreed there’s no margin for error as far as his team is concerned, adamant wins and not draws, as they’ve had in their last two matches, are needed.
He said: “We might have to throw caution to the wind a bit. We need to be a bit more brave, to have a go and offer more of a threat than we did the other night. But we also have to be careful at the other end.”