Alan Stubbs today backed his Hibs squad – ravaged by injury and suspensiion – to come good in Sunday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final clash against holders Inverness Caley Thistle.
The Easter Road side go into the home game on the back of three straight Championship defeats without suspended top scorer Jason Cummings and Marvin Bartley plus the injured duo of Paul Hanlon – who had been due to serve a one-match ban in any case – and Fraser Fyvie although Stubbs is hopeful the midfielder will return to training ahead of the League Cup final with Ross County on March 13.
But, Stubbs insisted, the Capital club possess plenty of cover, saying: “We’ve known since the last game against Hearts we’d have players not available. However, we are hopeful that Dylan McGeouch will come back into the squad this weekend.
“Up front, we have Anthony Stokes, James Keatings, Farid El Alagui and Chris Dagnall as options. In central defence, there’s Darren McGregor, Liam Fontaine and Niklas Gunnarsson so it’s not as if we have to play people out of position to fill in.”
Despite those three defeats by Morton, Dumbarton and Queen of the South, Stubbs contends that he could easily have been speaking of a great week for the Capital club rather than one of disappointment. However, he claimed, it’s only a matter of time before results turn back in Hibs’ favour.
The head coach said: “Yes, we have had a disappointing week in terms of results but, if you roll it back to August and someone had said to me that come March 5 we’d be second in the league, in the League Cup final and with a home tie in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup, I think you know what my response to that would have been.”
While some have questioned whether fighting on three fronts has begun to take its toll on his players, Stubbs insisted there were no excuses to be made.
He said: “That’s not me, my players or my staff. I have told them that, as far as I am concerned, we have created chances in those games.
“If they’d gone in we’d have gone on to win and no-one would be mentioning about us looking tired or this and that.
“There’s been other games where maybe the rub of the green has gone for us, things have dropped for us, players have found themselves in better positions or taken better decisions but the results will start to come again, simple as that.
“I have every confidence in the group.
“It’s a test of character but I have no doubt that the players will come through this and it will make them stronger.
“It’s a young group which is learning and getting better all the time. As a player, winning is not a test of character, it’s when you lose a couple of games and have to respond.
“I know what I have in that dressing room. I know they desperately want to achieve success this season and that gives me lots of confidence for going into the games ahead.”
While Caley may have enjoyed a somewhat inconsistent season, Stubbs believes that, like his own side, results tend not to tell the whole story.
He said: “I watched them against Celtic a couple of weeks ago and – I have to be honest – it was not a 3-0 game, the scoreline does not reflect the part Inverness played in the game.
“They had some good chances at 0-0, a bit like us this past week, that would have made the game very interesting.
“Caley come to us as cup holders and they’ll be really keen to be the first team in a while to retain it.”
• Striker Josh Peters, 19 – signed from Strathspey Thistle in January – scored a hat-trick in the Hibs Development team’s 3-1 win away to Dundee United yesterday.