Daryl Horgan: Newcastle will be perfect game to prepare Hibs for league opener
Daryl Horgan believes tomorrow night’s friendly with Newcastle United will sharpen Hibs’ game for their first Ladbrokes Premiership match of the season against St Mirren just four days later.
The Magpies travel to Easter Road for the first time in 35 years for their penultimate pre-season game before they face Arsenal at St James’ Park on August 11.
Having appointed Steve Bruce as their new manager, Horgan claimed Newcastle’s players - including recent £40million Brazilian striker Joelinton - will be desperate to catch their new manager’s eye.
However, the Hibs winger claimed it will be a chance for he and his team-mates to finesse their own game.
Horgan said: “Newcastle are a huge club. They’ve got a new manager, bought a £40million player and still the fans aren’t happy. But they do have quality players, guys who will be hungry to impress their new manager and show they are raring to go with their season just round the corner as well.
“It will help put that edge to our game. We are fit but this will be a real challenge. I don’t know what the manager’s plans are for the game, but there’s no doubt, and no disrespect to the teams we have been playing [in the Betfred Cup], this is a level up.”
Nevertheless, Horgan feels Paul Heckingbottom’s players are ready for Saturday’s visit from the Buddies following their Betfred games against Stirling Albion, Alloa Athletic, Arbroath and Elgin City.
Pointing out that he arrived at the club following last season’s Europa League adventure, much of which preceded the start of the domestic campaign, the Irishman said: “It’s been a bit unusual, having to win competitive games at a time when we’ve been very much in pre-season with new players bedding in.
“It’s about getting your minutes on the pitch, getting your fitness but, at the same time, trying to win games which, to be honest, I think is great. Everyone wants a competitive game. Sometimes when it’s a friendly, there isn’t that edge.
“No-one wants to be that Premiership side that is on the end of an upset and gets knocked out and thankfully we’ve made our way through.”
Although Hibs topped Group C, they didn’t have it all their own way, their opening games with League Two Stirling ending in a draw before they took a bonus point in a penalty shoot-out.
Admitting having the game played in glorious sunshine with fans in T-shirts and shorts might have given it the appearance of a friendly, Horgan revealed it was something of a test.
He said: “No disrespect to such teams, but they are always going to make it difficult for you. If I were their manager I wouldn’t be watering the pitch, I’d want the grass to grow a little bit. That makes it difficult to get your normal game going.
“But now everyone is ready to go against St Mirren. They’ll be a different proposition. They’ve got a new manager in Jim Goodwin, who did an unbelievable job at Alloa last season. It’ll be good to kick-off the season at home but we have to be right at it, right on our game to get the three points.”