Analysis: Paul Heckingbottom’s three bold calls

Hibs manager Paul Heckingbottom has made three bold calls, involving popular players, in recent matches to help his team stop the rot.

Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 6:00 am
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER Paul Heckingbottom during a Hibs Media session on September 12, 2019, at the HTC, Tranent (Photo by Roddy Scott / SNS Group)

Maxwell in, Marciano out

Ofir Marciano has arguably been Hibs’ best goalkeeper since Jim Leighton in the 1990s, but, after shipping 13 goals in four games, the Israeli was dropped for the home game against Hearts a week past Sunday. Since Chris Maxwell has replaced him in the starting XI, Hibs have conceded only three goals in three games and picked up their two best results of the season - a Betfred Cup quarter-final triumph over Kilmarnock and a home draw with Celtic.

Allan on the bench

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Heckingbottom was heavily criticised simply for substituting Scott Allan in the home draw with St Johnstone in August, so the manager was risking the wrath of the support when he chose to bench the popular playmaker from the start of last week’s Betfred Cup trip to Kilmarnock. Allan eventually came on in the 70th minute as Hibs went on to win on penalties and the talismanic midfielder, whose performance levels had dipped in previous matches, looked refocused and much more like his usual self when restored to the starting XI for Saturday’s draw with Celtic.

Kamberi out, Doidge in

Florian Kamberi was Hibs’ top league goal-scorer in both of the previous two seasons. The Swiss was also the team’s top scorer in the fledgling phase of the current campaign. But after three straight defeats and three games without a goal for Kamberi, he was dropped to the bench for last week’s trip to Rugby Park. Christian Doidge, who had hitherto struggled to make much impact since joining for a six-figure fee from Forest Green Rovers, took his place and has led the line to good effect against both Killie and Celtic, with his impressive play leading to Kris Ajer’s own goal on Saturday.