Terry Butcher today warned his Easter Road stars they’re in for another Edinburgh derby tomorrow – as Scottish Cup rivals Raith Rovers are packed with ex-Hearts players.
Raith boss Grant Murray himself is a former Tynecastle stalwart and, while one-time Jambos hitman Calum Elliot will sit out the fifth-round tie with a hamstring strain, skipper Jason Thomson, Liam Fox, Gordon Smith and Fraser Mullen all have Gorgie connections. And that, Butcher insisted, will add plenty of spice to a game in which the Championship side will be seeking to cause an upset. Revealing he’s already highlighted the significance of the presence of so many former Hearts players to his own squad, the Hibs manager said: “The fact they are ex-Hearts means they will be pumped up for the game, so we have to make sure we are pumped up even more.
“I think my players realise that, but Raith can do what they want to do, it’s up to us to make sure we are really up for it in terms of attitude and tempo. If our attitude is right and we play at the tempo that suits us, then we will be happy.
“I want us to win and to win with style, but the most important thing is to win – it’s not about pretty football but winning the cup tie.”
Raith go into tomorrow’s early kick-off (2pm) on the back of six matches without a win – the last five without scoring – and their hopes of forcing their way into the promotion play-off places took another knock when they were defeated by close neighbours Cowdenbeath last weekend. But Butcher was adamant there will be no complacency from his players. He said: “They are a great challenge. They are a team with a top record and who have done well against top-level opposition, and they’ll bring a good crowd along as well.
“I think they have sold the bottom section of the South Stand so they will have good support here. They obviously want to do well for the fans and progress in the cup as well – it is a good draw for them. And it is a good draw for us being at home.
“But if we were to look at Raith Rovers and say they are lower-league opposition and they have not won for a few games and they have done this and done that, we would be derelict in our duties. Our duty is to say they are a Premiership team and we will treat them as such and give them that respect. We will get stuck into them like we would do any Premiership team and try and win the game.”
Meanwhile, Butcher has told out-of-favour midfielder Kevin Thomson to follow team-mate Tom Taiwo’s lead if he wants to force his way back into the manager’s plans. Thomson has only appeared in two of the 12 games since Butcher took over from Pat Fenlon in November and has been nursing a calf strain recently but the Hibs boss, pointing to the way in which Taiwo came in from the cold to play a starring role against Celtic, insisted he hadn’t shut the former Hibs captain.
He said: “He has to get fit and he has to get out there. And he has to get some time on the training field, first and foremost. I think I have shown with Tom Taiwo that it is never say never. He has been absolutely terrific, he really has. He is certainly playing his best football that I have seen while here – full credit to him for that.
“The door is never closed. It is always open. It is up to players then to push it wider. They are professionals, they are paid by the club.
“They are good players. If they want to get back into the team they know how to go about it and what they have to do. It is entirely up to them.”