Musselburgh manager wary of Thornton Hibs threat

Stevie McLeish says a lack of squad depth has affected his preparations

Stevie McLeish says a lack of squad depth has affected his preparations

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Musselburgh Athletic boss Stevie McLeish has insisted his players won’t be taking Thornton Hibs lightly in their Fife and Lothians Cup third-round clash at Olivebank tomorrow.

Their visitors sit rock bottom of the Premier League, but they’ve already claimed one Super League scalp this season when they knocked out Newtongrange Star in the first round, and McLeish is eager to ensure they aren’t on the receiving end of a cup shock.

A place in the quarter-finals is at stake with a trip to Linlithgow Rose or Kennoway Star Hearts the reward, but McLeish isn’t thinking too far ahead given the shallow depth of his squad.

“We won’t be taking anyone lightly, because they’ll look at tomorrow as their cup final because they are playing a Super League team who got to the Scottish Cup final last year,” said McLeish.

“They will be up for it and will give everything they’ve got. They are sitting bottom of their league although they’ve turned up a couple of results in the last couple of weeks to give themselves a faint hope of surviving.

“I think given how little we’ve got of a squad I wouldn’t be counting our chickens about getting to any final at the moment. We’ve just got to take each game as it comes, there’s a lot of football to still be played.”

Burgh are aiming for just their second victory on the trot since November, with last season’s Junior Cup finalists having suffered from a lack of squad depth, which put paid to a potential title challenge with the Olivebank men top of the table in December.

McLeish added: “You can see it in the players, they are tired. The players are thinking when is the finishing line coming. I’ve been asking the same boys for the last four months to go to the well every single time. There is not enough depth and you can’t compete in the Super League without depth.

“We are squeezing as much as we can out of this group of players. The boys have been magnificent, their attitude to it all has been great. Their will to come out every week and put their body on the line and work really, really hard has been fantastic.”

McLeish has just 14 players at his disposal for tomorrow’s match with centre-back Gary Hamilton serving the first match of a two-game suspension.