Stubbs: Hibs will relish another top-flight test

Hibs striker James Keatings and St Johnstone defender Brian Easton were at Hampden for the Scottish League Cup semi-final draw
Hibs striker James Keatings and St Johnstone defender Brian Easton were at Hampden for the Scottish League Cup semi-final draw
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Alan Stubbs today admitted Hibs would have been the team St Johnstone wanted in the semi-final of the Scottish League Cup, after avoiding Premiership rivals Celtic and Ross County in yesterday’s draw.

However, having already knocked out two top-flight clubs in Aberdeen and Dundee United in the previous two rounds of the competition, the Easter Road head coach insisted the match – a repeat of the semi-final between the clubs when Hibs last won the trophy eight years ago – is one his players will approach with relish.

Pointing out Hibs had also beaten Ross County in the League Cup last season and were only beaten in a penalty shoot-out by United, Stubbs said: “We’ve had a great record against Premiership clubs since I came in and the boys deserve a lot of credit for that.

“Any one of the three teams in the draw was always going to be tough and I’d think we’re the side both St Johnstone and Ross County would have wanted while we all probably wanted to avoid Celtic, But, what we do have, is four teams that are in form at the moment.

“St Johnstone have had a really good run recently and we know it is going to be a tough game but it’s nice to be able to talk about having a semi-final to look forward to.”

While the ties are to be played on January 30 and 31, further details will be announced in due course with some Hibs fans speculating that their game may not be played at Hampden, recalling how the semi-final against the Saints in 2007 – won in 3-1 extra time – was played at Tynecastle.

Stubbs said: “I think we’re going to have a substantial following behind us so wherever we go. I think we’d like it to be a stadium that holds quite a large number to accommodate all our fans who will want to go to the game.”

Almost immediately, however, Stubbs turned his attention to next Tuesday’s rearranged Championship match with Livingston in Edinburgh, one which offers Hibs the chance not only to extend their unbeaten run to 14 games but to trim Rangers lead to just two points.

He said: “Having taken care of St Mirren at the weekend it was great for everyone involved with the club to look forward to the draw with all the anticipation and excitement that brought.

“We’ve talked about it and we’ll look forward to the day when it comes, but very quickly our focus turns to Livingston.”

n HIBS take on Hearts in the SPFL Development League at Ainslie Park tonight (kick-off 7.30pm).