Lewis Stevenson: I hope I’m heading back west for the final

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Banned Lewis Stevenson praying his Hibs team-mates can ease pain of being sidelined today by booking Hampden return next month

LEWIS STEVENSON knows sitting in the stand watching his team-mates take to the pitch for their Scottish Cup semi-final clash with Aberdeen at Hampden today will be torture.

But he’ll still be roaring them on from the sidelines in the hope that they can record a victory over the Dons and fire him into contention for a spot in the final instead.

The Hibs midfielder missed out on a place in Pat Fenlon’s squad to face the Dons this afternoon because of a booking that he picked up for unsporting behaviour in the last round against Ayr United and, instead of playing, he will be forced to take his seat among the rest of the Hibs supporters.

The 24-year-old had previously been cautioned in the fourth-round win over Cowdenbeath back in January, leading to a one-match suspension, and admitted that it has been difficult to be involved in the build-up to the match this week knowing that he has no chance of playing. “It’s really disappointing for me to miss out,” he said. “It’s games like this you want to be involved in, I think every player would be the same.

“There’s been a real buzz about the place and, even though I know I won’t be playing, it has been nice to be part of it.

“I travelled through with the squad on the bus and stayed with the team at the hotel so I have still been included. I’ll be up in the stand with the rest of the fans and a lot of my friends and family are going along too.

“It will probably be difficult for me when I have to go and sit in the stand and the team are coming out of the tunnel, but hopefully we will get a good result and I will still be able to enjoy the occasion.

“It’s going to be a great day for everyone at the club if we do manage to get through and obviously I would enjoy my football even more if I knew that I had a cup final to look forward to at the end of the season.”

Stevenson has been a regular in Fenlon’s side this season, having featured in all 21 of the cup and league games that the Irishman has been in charge of since his arrival in Edinburgh back in November.

But the Hibs midfielder is not taking his place in the starting line-up for granted and reckons he will have to fight tooth and nail to get back into the squad for the SPL game against Kilmarnock next Sunday. He knows that missing out today will give someone else a chance to stake their claim for a regular place – and potentially keep him out of the side as a result.

Stevenson, who is the longest-serving player on Hibs’ books right now, continued: “It has been good lately, it’s nice to know that the manager thinks highly of you and that you’re in his plans. I know there are still some things that I could be doing better – and he has told me that too – but things are going in the right direction for me at the moment. I knew I had been booked in an earlier round but, going into the Ayr game hadn’t really given it too much thought. It was in the back of my mind but it’s one of those situations where your main concern is getting the club through to the next round and everything else goes out of your head until the game is over.

“I suppose it gives someone else a chance to come into the side now and show what they can do. There are probably a lot of guys at the club right now who deserve their chance but haven’t had it yet. I have been lucky and have played a lot of games under the new manager, but I am sure that all the other players will think they have done enough to be given a chance too.

“We’ve got a great squad here and I am sure it won’t make that much difference to the boys if I am out of the side or not. If the boys play well today then I am not expecting to just walk back into the side next week. I know I will have to fight for my place.”

It has certainly been a strange week for Stevenson, training all week with his team-mates in the knowledge that he has no chance of being involved. It probably would have been easier to take a step back over the last few days, however he insisted that he still put 100 per cent effort into sessions, just to make sure that his manager doesn’t forget what he can bring to the side. You can’t lower your standards because, if you’re acting like that in training, then the manager might start to have doubts about you,” he said. “There are other players waiting in the wings so you need to be giving it 100 per cent no matter what the situation is.

The 24-year-old recently became a dad but it will be a last-minute decision on whether his young son, Louie, and girlfriend, Julia, make it along to Hampden. “Julia wants to bring him to the game but I think it will all depend on the weather,” said Stevenson. “He is maybe still a bit young to be going to matches but we wanted this to be his first match. If I had been playing then I think he would definitely be going.

“Obviously with Louie being here now you want to win things so that you can tell him about them when he’s older, or show him your medals and it’s games like today that you need to be winning in order to do that. It’s been a lot of hard work since he arrived – I just don’t know what we used to do with the free time that we used to have. At the moment we spend a lot of time running around trying to organise things for him, but it’s been great and we’re both enjoying it.”